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The Essentials: Why travelling local is the next big thing

Home on the range

Aug 6, 2013

by Robin Schroffel

006_essentials_story001For many Albertans, a vacation usually means a far-flung flight or, at the very least, a jaunt across the border and over the mountains to B.C. But events like the recent Tour de l’Alberta, a popular one-day cycling event that took participants on a recreational bike ride through the Francophone communities of central Alberta, are a great reminder that you don’t have to go far from home for an amazing travel experience.

Locals are catching on to what international visitors have known for a while: Alberta is a beautiful place to spend a holiday. In 2011, the Calgary metropolitan area saw inbound domestic tourism spending (Canadians travelling within Canada) increase by 9.8 per cent, more than double the inbound domestic tourism growth seen by the country overall. For residents, holidaying in Alberta means saving on transportation costs and headaches – not to mention time.

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The province’s geographical diversity means you have lots of options, too, from taking a rafting trip in the Rockies to a guided paleontological dig in the bone-dry Badlands. “There are some really great, unique places to see right here in the province,” says Shelley Grollmuss, executive director of North American marketing with Travel Alberta.

The fact that it’s a staycation doesn’t mean that you have to skimp on luxury, either. Luxury travel in Alberta is a niche market that is coming into its own. The province’s culinary scene is exploding, with star chefs presiding not only in standalone restaurants but in hotel kitchens. And when it comes to accommodations, upscale is not just confined to the fairytale Fairmont railway hotels in Banff, Lake Louise, Calgary and Edmonton: there are luxe properties all over the province.

Whether you’re hooked on the idea of a working ranch stay where cattle drives and horseback riding are followed by a soak in the Jacuzzi, craving a rejuvenating spa far away from the cities and tourist towns or seeking camping made comfortable with the aid of canvas A-frame tents with decks, off-ground beds and a plethora of provided supplies, rest assured you can find it in Alberta.

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