Banff is all about tourism. In fact, almost its entire economy is tourism-based.

“The Town of Banff‘s reason for being a municipality is to provide services to visitors to Banff National Park and to support residents who live here to provide services to visitors,” said Jason Darrah, director of communications and marketing for the town.

Prior to the novel coronavirus, about $3 billion in spending in Alberta was generated by the town each year. The total Alberta economic impact from tourism is about $9 billion annually.

Banff is home to Canada’s oldest national park as well as one of Alberta’s youngest municipalities. The town was established in 1990. Only people who work in the national park can live in the four-square-kilometre town.

Darrah says 90 per cent of Banff’s economy is directly or indirectly supported by tourism.

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“In a few days, that came to a halt,” Darrah said. “The Town of Banff has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In the first couple of weeks of the pandemic and subsequent shutdown, as many as 6,000 people — in a town with a population of about 9,000 — were laid off.