With travel uncertainty looming for the summer of 2021, popular Saskatchewan destinations are busier than usual, fielding calls about summer vacations.
Bryan Pawlachuk, the owner of the Candle Lake Golf Resort, said his phone “doesn’t stop ringing throughout the day with calls coming from across the province. Our calls start at eight in the morning and those are all bookings for the summer.”
The single family accommodations are popular.
“We’ve built 14 more campsites and nine more hotel rooms to accommodate the bookings based on how busy last year was so at this point in February already, it would be hard to find a spot in the summer.”
Many of those bookings are people coming for weddings that may not happen because of restrictions on gathering sizes, so rooms might open up, but still he doesn’t expect them to last long.
“As we’re getting cancellations, people are moving in and taking them so we’re not seeing empty spots.”
He says 16 weddings were cancelled or postponed to this summer, but some of those are now thinking about booking in 2022.
Ryan Danberg at Elk Ridge Resort, north of Prince Albert, says the volume of calls about summer vacation rentals is way up compared to other years at this time.
He’s been with the resort for about 12 years as an employee and now an owner and says while winter has also been busy, the inquiries are coming from Saskatchewan residents who want to go somewhere and enjoy the outdoors this summer and are not leaving it until the last minute.
COVID-19 is very much on the minds of those who are calling.
“Everybody wants to know the changes to the guidelines and when that might happen, and where the government is at with that. Respectfully knowing that we’re still under the public health order. We’re remaining very hopeful,” Danberg said.
Both Candle Lake Golf Resort and Elk Ridge have taken a substantial hit because they cannot use their banquet facilities for weddings or other events which bring in a substantial amount of their revenue.
At Lost Creek Resort at Waskesiu in Prince Albert National Park, bookings are also well ahead of other years and they’re filling up, owner Gord Bueckert said.
Tourism Saskatchewan encourages people to consider travel once the restrictions are lifted.
“It’s not really the time to travel. It’s time to plan and think about future trips and find out about the things you want to do in Saskatchewan,” director of marketing and communications Jonathan Potts said.
Supporting the tourism industry by ordering from a restaurant or supporting a local hotel would be ways of helping, he said.
Tourism Saskatchewan is planning to ensure they are ready to mobilize when restrictions are lifted.
“We have to be prepared at Tourism Saskatchewan for any eventuality, regardless of when it happens and there’s a lot of planning and preliminary work, but we’re not putting any timeline on that,” Potts said.