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Over 900,000 Brits visit Canada in 2005
For the first time ever, the number of British visitors to Canada exceeded the 900,000 mark. The Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) recently released the 2005 figures which represent a 9.9% increase over 2004, with December visitation alone up 14.5%.
"906,179 is the official number," says Maggie Davison, managing director of the CTC's UK post. "These numbers serve to strengthen the position of the UK as the second largest market to Canada after the US."
The strong results from the UK are helped by recent increases in air capacity to Canada from the UK, in particular low-fare airlines which have helped bring down ticket prices.
Strong loonie stalking tourism sector
Americans represent roughly 80% of all foreign travellers to Canada and so far they have been staying home in droves.
Trips to Canada by Americans are running at a 25-year low, according to Statistics Canada, and with the dollar pushing US.90¢, that trend isn't likely to change.
"We've just seen an erosion in the USA market to Canada over the last 5 years," said Randy Williams, chief executive officer of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada. Mr. Williams said American business has fallen off by 37% since 9/11. He cites a long list of factors, including the stronger loonie, confusion over border controls, gas prices and even anti-Canada sentiment among some Americans. He added that the biggest impact will be on day trips and spontaneous travel by Americans, which will likely hurt border communities. But the rising dollar cuts both ways. Travel from Europe and Asia is growing as currencies in those countries have also been rising against the U.S. dollar.
Canadians are also travelling more within their own country. Domestic travel accounts for about two-thirds of all travel in Canada. The overall tourism industry grew 6.8% last year to C$61.4-billion. It's expected to grow by 4% to 6% this year.
Mr. Williams said the increase in 2005 was largely the result of a rise in domestic travel and overseas visitors, who tend to stay longer than Americans and spend more money. However, he cautioned that the industry is still recovering from disastrous years in 2002 and 2003 and is just returning to historic levels. The drop in U.S. visitors, who account for the vast majority of foreign visitors, will hurt many operators. "Every four out of five visitors to Canada are from the USA," he said.
To describe the industry enthusiasm over the emerging China market as a "buzz" would do it little justice; an incessant clamour would be more accurate.
While the ongoing negotiations between the Canadian and Chinese governments to reach an Approved Destination Status (ADS) agreement are a positive sign, it is important to remember that ADS has not yet been secured.
The negotiations are government-to-government; the tourism industry and its business associations - including the Canadian Tourism Commission - are spectators, not negotiators.
It is worth noting that in 2005 China already sent to Canada nearly 110,000 tourists. This is an increase of 14.3% over 2004. And while the numbers do not come close to matching numbers from, say, Japan (402,125) or South Korea (167,867) they are still significant.
Latest lodging report (week ending April 22nd) from the Canadian hotel industry showing 'revenue per available room' (RevPAR).
|Newfoundland & Labrador||$56.55||-11.0%|
|Prince Edward Island||$23.03||+4.0%|
RevPAR is typically defined as room revenue divided by rooms available.
% change reflects the change from the previous week
U.S. market share of international travel is at an all-time low
U.S. tourism industry leaders and top government officials have urged collaboration between the public and private sectors to stem the shrinking U.S. market share of international travellers.
Business leaders have voiced deep concern over a decline in international visitors, due partly to more bureaucratic U.S. visa policies after 9/11 and a battered image overseas in the wake of the Iraq war.
Jay Rasulo, chairman of the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), called for an aggressive campaign to market the U.S. as a destination for overseas tourists. TIA has approved $500,000 for a strategic plan by year-end to tackle declining tourism. While about 20 U.S. states have overseas marketing campaigns, there has not been a unified U.S.-themed initiative in 15 years.
Energy costs, salaries impact vacationers' budgets
Travellers will not see any relief in their wallet this year with the overall cost of taking a vacation increasing by 5.4% from last year, according to the U.S. AAA's Annual Vacation Costs survey.
"Rate increases for lodgings are mostly a result of supply and demand, especially in major markets," said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Tourism Information Development. "For both lodgings and restaurants, rising energy costs as well as salary and benefit costs are certainly having an impact."
AAA's survey shows that a family of two adults and two children can expect to pay an average US$261 per day for food and lodging. Lodging rates will average US$141 a night, up nearly 9% from last year. Meals will cost US$120, up nearly 2% from 2005.
AAA has been tracking vacation costs since 1950 when the average daily cost of meals and lodgings for a family of four was US$13.
Tourism office guilty of racial discrimination in vacation rentals
A court fined a tourism office in southern France last month for complicity in racial discrimination in vacation rentals.
Three whistle-blowers from inside the office in Cap d'Agde, on France's Mediterranean coast, brought the case to light in September 2003, saying that about 10 rental agents had persuaded the office to pull North African-sounding names from its reservation database for the region's popular resorts.
A criminal court in nearby Beziers fined the office the equivalent of C$27,000 and reservations director Viviane Praz was convicted and given a 15-day suspended jail sentence.
The verdict comes as France is strengthening its legal arsenal in the fight against racial discrimination - often cited by immigrants and their children in troubled suburbs where rioting erupted last year.
Most expensive hotel room in the world
It's an expensive time to be wealthy. You can spend US$215,000 on a bottle of perfume from perfumer Clive Christian or US$120 on a hamburger at DB Bistro Moderne in New York City.
Not to be outdone, hoteliers are keeping pace. In the list of the most expensive hotel rooms in the world, five of the top ten rooms ring in at US$25,000 per night or more.
The most outrageous one, the Penthouse Suite at Hotel Martinez in Cannes, France, has a nightly rate of US$37,200. For that, you get four bedrooms, a private terrace with a Jacuzzi and sweeping views of the Mediterranean - plus the comfort of knowing you're getting the most expensive night's sleep money can buy, although we don't know whether it's the best.
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Online bookings overtake all other methods
Preliminary data recently released by the Travel Industry Association of America show that last year, for the first time, more trips were booked online than by any other method.
One-quarter of travellers who booked accommodation reservations did so online in 2005 (24%), up 9% from the year before. Nearly as many travelers booking lodging reservations used chain 800 telephone numbers, but this was down 5% from 2004.
The largest share of travelers making reservations made them directly with the property.
4% of travelers used a travel agent to book accommodations in 2005, down slightly from 2004 (5%).
Trips booked online involve significantly higher spending on average ($754, excluding the cost of transportation) than trips booked offline ($406) or with no advance booking ($219). Internet-booked trips also entail more activities (2.3 on average) than do trips booked offline (1.7 activities) or with no advance bookings (1.5).
The average age of travellers who book trips online is 44 - similar to the age of travellers who booked offline (45) or did not book at all (43), but younger than those who booked through a travel agent (49).
Visitor traffic to holiday homes.canada (www.frbo.ca) & For Rent By Owner in Canada (www.FRBO.ca) web sites for the month of April 2005:
Total 'hits' for the month = 151,653 hits (5,055 per day)
Total 'unique visits' for the month = 11,349 (378 per day)
Visitors came from 80+ countries.
For more information, including an independent audit of our site performance, and to view the countries of origin for visitors click here.
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