Hospitality students cash in on low Canadian dollar
Hotels, restaurants and retail shops in Banff and Jasper National Parks are ramping up for another record-breaking summer, and SAIT students are eager and ready to lend their new skills.
SAIT Hospitality and Tourism students are hosting and attending the 18th annual HOSPO today - the largest hospitality conference of its kind in Western Canada. More than 40 guest speakers from industry - including SAIT alumni - will present in seminars all morning, followed by an afternoon trade show with 50 booths representing more than 60 businesses.
Ken Upton, Hospitality Management instructor, at SAIT says despite the economy students are still finding many job opportunities in Alberta.
"The mountain parks are booming," says Upton. "Not only is there an influx of Americans, but also tourists from China, Korea and Japan. This increased volume of visitors bodes well for SAIT students looking for summer jobs."
The National Parks in Alberta saw an 8.1% increase in visitors last summer over the previous year, according to the Alberta Tourism Market Monitor. Those numbers are expected to rise again thanks both to the low Canadian dollar and Parks Canada announcing free admission to National Parks in 2017 to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday.
Fairmont Hotels will be speaking with SAIT students about career opportunities as they gear up for a busy summer at properties not only in the mountain parks but also in downtown Calgary.
Janet Jacques is the Director of Human Resources at the Fairmont Palliser and says visitors tend to stop in the city before heading to the mountain parks, or for a couple of nights on their way back home.
"We see optimism and opportunity," says Jacques. "Business travel is down but that has created opportunities for travel in the leisure, group or tour markets.
Staycations are also proving to be extremely popular as Canadians are sticking closer to home instead of going south."
Jacques says the passion and excitement of students at HOSPO energizes Fairmont staff about the summer season.
"When education and industry come together, it's magic," she says.