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March 2005 newsletter

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  • Canadian travel news
    Tourism neglected in federal budget
    Alberta cuts hotel taxes to attract visitors
    Big financial boost for B.C. tourism
    Canadians plan more trips this year compared to 2004
    Canadians desert travel agents
    Tourism suffers as currency's increase curbs visitors
  • Feedback
    Short-term vacation rentals in jeopardy
  • Internet info
    WiFi availability greatly influences hotel selection
    Visitor traffic
  • Advice for the property owner
    Check your listings

Canadian travel news

Tourism neglected in federal budget
Tourism continues to be neglected by the federal government at a time when Canada's competitors are recognizing its importance as a key economic sector and investing heavily in tourism marketing, warns the group representing the interests of Canada's tourism businesses. The 2005 federal budget failed to address a critical need for increased destination marketing investments at the national level.
"Canada is being outbid by a growing number of other countries in the race to attract international visitors," said Randy Williams, President of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC). "We have some of the best tourism products, services and experiences in the world, but we've been losing market share because we simply cannot afford to get the message out to a big enough audience of potential travellers."
Canada's national tourism marketing agency, the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC), receives $79 million a year from Ottawa. The industry has determined that Canada needs a national tourism marketing budget of $175 million a year-which would be matched by investments from the private sector-in order to compete effectively.
Last year, TIAC presented the federal government with a business case that shows an additional $96 million for marketing by the CTC, matched by industry partners, would generate at least $1.4 billion in tourism receipts, creating 19,400 new jobs and raising an extra $413 million in government revenues, of which $202 million would flow to Ottawa. The indirect economic impact would also be incrementally substantial.
"From an industry perspective, marketing is absolutely crucial," said Wayne St. John, Chair of TIAC's Board of Directors. "The insufficient level of federal support for tourism marketing hinders our ability to grow despite our excellent products. For example, the Australian Tourist Commission, which was modelled after Canada's and markets a comparative although smaller destination, has a budget almost double that of the Canadian Tourism Commission. As a result, Australia has increased its market share."

Alberta cuts hotel taxes to attract visitors
Tourism spending is about to jump in Alberta under a bill that will cut the provincial hotel room tax slightly and dedicate the remainder to attracting visitors.
As of April 1, the 5% hotel tax will drop to 4% and is expected to generate about $56 million in 2004-05, so the cut will cost the province about $11 million. It's estimated the $24-million tourism budget will get a healthy increase of about $16 million thanks to the hotel tax.
Jim Hansen, president of the Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association, said he was delighted to hear more money will be spent on marketing the province to conventioneers and other visitors.
"You have to be able to compete financially to attract those conferences, and we just didn't have the funds to do that," Taylor said. "So we should now have enough that we can compete and bring those people to Alberta, and I think we'll all profit by it."
Derek Coke-Kerr, managing director of Tourism Alberta, noted the tourism business is the province's fourth largest industry. He said the redirected money will help Alberta compete with British Columbia, which spends over $50 million a year on tourism marketing.

Big financial boost for B.C. tourism
B.C.'s Premier Gordon Campbell has promised the tourist industry an additional one-time boost of $14 million for promotion around the province.
Campbell said that the government will give the 6 regions of B.C. $2 million each to market themselves in any way they see fit. Next month, the province will erect giant signs at 13 highway entry points into B.C. greeting travellers with the now-familiar phrase associated with Liberal government marketing - "Best Place On Earth."

Canadians plan more trips this year compared to 2004
Canadians desert travel agents

These findings, as well as other travel statistics, are the result of a survey presented recently during the annual conference of the Hotel Association of Canada in Toronto.
When it comes to traveling in general, 57% of respondents plan a trip this year, compared to 49% in a survey completed last year. When broken down by province, residents in the Maritimes are most likely to travel, at 64%, followed closely by western Canada at 62%. Only 51% of Ontarians will travel this year.
A troubling number for travel agents is that only 2% named agents as a source of information for a trip, which trails behind 30% basing their decisions on word of mouth and 28% using the Internet. When it comes to booking, only 4% would call an agent, compared to 24% using the Internet.
A large majority of those people will vacation within their home provinces, lead by 70% in Quebec, 60% in BC and 54% in Ontario. While travel within Canada will become more popular, the length of the trip won't be long, with 74% saying they will keep a trip to one to four nights. Only 20% would plan a five to nine night vacation.
As for the cost of accommodation, a majority of people, 40% of respondents, are willing to spend only between $100 and $125 per night for a place to stay, with 30% saying between $125 and $150.
It may be wise for those in the hospitality business to pay attention to the 85% of respondents who say friendly service is the most important amenity, while 65% say being within 5 minutes of major attractions is essential. Half the respondents also said they would pay an extra $20 to be near an attraction.

Tourism suffers as currency's increase curbs visitors
Megan Sullivan's U.S. dollars don't go as far as they used to, and neither will she this winter. Instead of snowboarding in Whistler, British Columbia, she and a friend may opt for Miami because "the beach is free."
"I would love to go back to Whistler, but I just can't afford it," said Sullivan, 24, a part-time student at Framingham State College in Framingham, Massachusetts. "Any time you travel and the U.S. dollar isn't worth as much it definitely plays a role in whether you want to go there."
Sullivan isn't the only one cancelling trips to Canada: The number of visits by Americans to Canada fell 2.5% to 34.6 million last year, a 12-year low, Statistics Canada reported recently. The deficit between what Canadians spend abroad and what tourists in Canada spend will widen to C$5.1 billion this year from C$4.3 billion in 2003, if the dollar remains near current levels, according to the Conference Board of Canada.
But, some Canadian attractions are too good to pass up even if they cost a little more. Parents of 10-year-old hockey players from a Virginia team never discussed the currency when they booked a trip to an Ottawa hockey tournament in late December. "The Ottawa tournament was just so great we were going to do it no matter what," said Lynn Anderson, who helps manage the Reston Raiders. "It's the level of competition there that is just so great that we made the decision to come."

Feedback

Short-term vacation rentals in jeopardy
A new City of Kelowna, B.C., bylaw attempts to shut down the Vacation Rental industry. It states that the minimum rental period for homes, apartments and condos must be thirty days.
A dedicated group is working on having the bylaw reversed or modified, or establishing a new business license category called "Vacation Home" or "Short Term Accommodation Rental".
Anyone who has information that would be helpful is urged to contact judyschnarr@shaw.ca. Your assistance is appreciated.

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Internet info

WiFi availability greatly influences hotel selection
Only a year or so ago, hotels were hyping high-speed - wired - Internet access. That's so yesterday. Now the rush is on to install WiFi (wireless fidelity) access. Two smaller chains (Wingate Inn and Microtel) are so eager to stand out in this rush that they are offering WiFi - throughout their hotels - for free. Henry Harteveldt, of Forrester Research, said the trend in Internet access appears to favor WiFi "because it's faster and less expensive to install." Even resort hotels are adding wireless because, for better or worse, guests like to use their computers at the pool or on the porch. Worldwide more than 16,000 hotels and resorts currently offer WiFi access, and this figure is up from 9,000 in August 2004, representing a 78% growth in this market segment over the last 6 months. Hotels offer the most WiFi access via hotspots than any other type of location. Hotspots per location type are as follows:

  • Hotels & Resorts: 16,674
  • Restaurants: 9,718
  • Cafes: 8,842
  • Stores/Shopping Malls: 5,566
  • Pubs: 4,873

A JiWire survey shows that for 71% of its users the availability of WiFi influences their choice of hotel when travelling. "Both business and leisure travellers have become very sophisticated and expect to have wireless Internet access when they are on the road," it quotes Kevin McKenzie, Chief Executive Officer of JiWire, as saying.
It appears that the United States has the most hotels and resorts offering WiFi with more than 5,000 locations, followed by Germany and France.

Visitor traffic to holiday homes.canada web site for the month of February 2005:
Total 'hits' for the month = 109,299 hits (3,903 per day)
Total 'unique visits' for the month = 8,291 (296 per day)
Visitors came from 70+ countries.
For more information, including an independent audit of our site performance, and to view the countries of origin for visitors click here.

Advice for the property owner

Check your listings
Get into the habit of checking your listings, wherever they are, on a regular basis. There is no cost to edit your listings at holiday homes.canada. Just send us a note of the changes needed and we'll take care of things.

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