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October 2005 newsletter

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  • Canadian travel news
    Gas bar blues hit Canadian tourism
    Canadian RevPAR
  • International travel news
    Tourism inhospitable to new rules governing border traffic
    Fuel costs crippling airline industry
  • Internet info
    Online bookings choice of more travellers
    Internet to overtake travel agents before end of decade
    Visitor traffic
  • Advice for the property owner
    Website optimization

Canadian travel news

Gas bar blues hit Canadian tourism
There is little doubt in Canada's travel industry that soaring gasoline prices will have an impact on tourism. The only questions remaining is how big that impact will be and where it will hurt the most.
"Auto travel is an important mode of transport for our tourism industry, both for the domestic sector and in cross-border tourism from the U.S.," said Randy Williams, president of the Travel Industry Association of Canada (TIAC). "The high cost of fuel will keep automobiles off the road, or at least lessen the distance of trips. That's a big problem."
Williams said the declining number of visitors from the U.S. was of concern even before gasoline prices spiked above $1 for a litre in the past few weeks.
Travel to Canada in June hit its lowest level in almost a year, as fewer Americans made same-day car trips north of the border, according to Statistics Canada. The drop in the number of U.S. visitors outweighed a gain in travel from overseas countries, which rose for a 7th consecutive month.
Elmhirst's Resort in Keene, Ont., hasn't had any cancellations because of higher gasoline prices, but "there's no question that it will have an impact on people's travel patterns," owner Peter Elmhirst said. "We haven't felt the effect yet, but that may be because most of our American visitors come earlier in the summer and this time of the year we mainly have European and conference guests. And Europeans are used to high fuel prices."
However, Elmhirst said there may be an upside to high fuel prices for Ontario resort operators. "It's possible that, if fuel prices remain high into next year, Ontarians will be less likely to take that drive to a beach in Prince Edward Island or take that motor home holiday in the Yukon. They may be more inclined to take their holiday at home in Ontario."
For the Atlantic provinces, a drop in arrivals from Ontario would be a major blow. In July, for example, almost 20% of tourists arriving in PEI by car were from Ontario.
TIAC's Williams doesn't see a growth in regional tourism as an upside for the travel industry. "We don't see any bright lights at all," he said. "If Ontario folks aren't travelling to Quebec or Atlantic Canada because of high fuel costs, then those folks in Quebec and Atlantic Canada won't be travelling to Ontario, either. The longer the trip, the more expenditure the traveller makes. The closer the destination, the less they spend, so naturally we're all for Canadians getting out there on long trips."

Canadian RevPAR
Latest lodging report (week ending October 1st) from the Canadian hotel industry showing 'revenue per available room' (RevPAR).

Province RevPAR*
Alberta $94.51
British Columbia $102.89
Manitoba $63.03
New Brunswick $64.82
Newfoundland & Labrador $77.25
Nova Scotia $97.24
Ontario $97.78
Prince Edward Island $78.55
Quebec $112.11
Saskatchewan $60.23
Canada $76.78

*RevPAR is typically defined as room revenue divided by rooms available.


International travel news

Tourism inhospitable to new rules governing border traffic
Tourism and hospitality officials on both sides of the Niagara River are crying foul over the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's decision to stick with a mandate that passports be required to enter the country.
Homeland Security, in a Sept. 1 ruling, decided to maintain its requirement that passports - or the equivalent, such as a Nexus pass - will be needed for anyone entering the United States by vehicle effective Jan. 1, 2008. Air and sea travelers will need passports to enter from Canada as of Jan. 1, 2007. The passport requirement impacts all U.S. border crossings with both Canada and Mexico.
"It is going to have a huge economic impact in both the U.S. and Canada," said Carolyn Bones, Niagara Falls Chamber of Commerce president. "For years, we've been able to market this area as having an almost 'invisible border,' and that's going away."
According to research just 34% of all U.S. citizens 18 or above, and 41% of Canadian adults, have a passport.
The Conference Board of Canada, in a report prepared for the Canadian Tourism Commission, predicts that the passport requirement would result in 3.5 million fewer trips into the U.S. from Canada by 2008, translating to the loss of $785 million in potential tourism revenue. Canada-bound trips by U.S. citizens would fall by 7.7 million and result in a $1.7 billion loss in revenues, according to the report.
Jared Agen, a Homeland Security spokesman, said the Sept. 1 decision is the beginning of a public-comment period that extends into the fall. Agen said a final determination won't be made until after that comment period ends. "We are following a congressional mandate to make sure the borders are secure," he said. "But at the same time, we don't want to hinder the flow of traffic between U.S. and Canada."
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, in July led a charge in the Senate that ultimately created an amendment barring President Bush or his administration from implementing the passport requirement.
"Requiring passports at the border is unacceptable and will cause huge economic hardship in Buffalo and all of Western New York," Schumer said.
Thomas Garlock, Niagara Falls Bridge Commission executive director, said more stringent requirements for a proposed national driver's license may serve the same purpose as a passport. That would be less damaging to the regional tourism, hospitality and commerce trades. "This plan is cutting off the casual crossings we have enjoyed for more than 100 years," he said. "It just makes no sense to me that people would want to cut off something that has worked so well for so long."

Fuel costs crippling airline industry
The airline industry is expected to lose $7.4 billion this year as carriers face crippling fuel bills.
Chief executive of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Giovanni Bisignani said the cost of oil was "once again robbing the industry of a return to profitability."
According to the Financial Times, North American carriers will face the brunt of the losses.
IATA have predicted losses in the region of $8 billion for 2005 while European carriers will break even and Asia Pacific airlines are likely to make a profit of $1 billion.
Fuel is now accounting for 25% of the total airline industry costs and is second only to labour costs, a fact emphasized by British Airways last month when is raised its fuel surcharge for the fifth time since May 2004.

Internet info

Online bookings choice of more travellers
According to a survey of 32,680 American online leisure travellers, 53% book travel over the Internet. Online bookers are twice as likely to have a college education as non-bookers, have higher household incomes and take an average of 4.3 leisure trips per year compared to 2.6 trips for non-bookers.

Internet to overtake travel agents before end of decade
The internet will overtake agents for booking travel in as little as 2 to 3 years time, a survey predicts.
A poll of more than 4,000 travellers from the UK to the US shows that agents accounted for a high of 88% of bookings in 1998 but this had declined to 50% by 2004.
At the same time, the internet has moved from a zero start in 1996 to now account for over half of travel bookings.
The results of the survey also show that the internet is poised to overtake agents to become the primary source of travel information, from a standing start 9 years ago.
The figures come from an ongoing US Department of Commerce in-flight survey of travellers to the US.

Visitor traffic to holiday homes.canada (www.frbo.ca) & For Rent By Owner in Canada (www.FRBO.ca) web sites for the month of September 2005:
Total 'hits' for the month = 125,822 hits (4,194 per day)
Total 'unique visits' for the month = 9,633 (322 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

Website optimization
According to research about 80% of overall website visits begin in a search engine or a directory service. Many other surveys also show that up to 85% of Internet users rely on search engines (e.g. Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc.) to locate relevant information on the Web.
Direct online distribution begins and ends with your website. A well functioning, fully optimized website is a real asset that serves as the chief instrument to capture new markets......for complete article click here.

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