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Overnight travel from U.S. holding steady
Overnight travel from the U. S. edged up 0.8% to just over 1.1 million trips but the overall number of U.S. visitors travelling to Canada hit its lowest level on record in October.
According to Statistics Canada, U.S. residents made fewer than 2.3 million trips to Canada in October, the lowest monthly level for travel from the U.S. since record-keeping started in 1972.
Americans made just over one million same-day car trips in October, down 5% from September. This was the seventh monthly decrease this year and the sixth consecutive record low. A gain in the number of overnight trips taken by car offset the decrease in overnight trips taken by air.
Canada was also visited by fewer visitors from countries other than the U.S., their numbers edging down 0.7% to an estimated 370,000. Even so, travel from seven of Canada's top 12 overseas markets was up. The largest increase was in the number of trips from Mexico (up 7.2%), while the largest reduction was in the number of trips from China (down 12.3%). This drop from China follows a record-high month in September.
When will tourism rebound?
Tourism officials will be watching visitor numbers closely in 2007 to see whether new passport requirements or the loss of the HST rebate for travellers will put a damper on American and foreign travellers to Canada.
As of Jan. 23, Canadians flying into the U.S. must have a passport. American residents returning home from Canada will also need them.
Will Americans, who as a rule haven't owned passports, now bother to get them? In December the U.S. ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins, tried to reassure the tourism industry when he spoke at a recent conference and noted that Americans were applying for passports in record numbers.
Ottawa's move to drop a sales tax rebate on products purchased in Canada by foreign visitors takes effect April 1. Tourism officials have said losing the program could be more damaging than the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Time will tell.
Added Canadian flights
Tourism operators hoping for colder winter
While there's plenty of snow in Western Canada to thrill skiers and snowboarders, tourism operators elsewhere in the country are starting to get a little nervous.
Winter weather has yet to arrive in Ontario and Quebec, and Environment Canada's long-term forecast isn't inspiring any optimism for substantial snowfall. Senior climatologist David Phillips says almost the entire country is expected to be warmer than normal from January through March.
That doesn't mean there won't be snow or freezing temperatures, but it's not good news for tourism operators already stressed by the mild season thus far.
The world's largest ice rink, Ottawa's Rideau Canal, is currently closed, a major Ontario ski resort has only three of 35 runs open, and the province's coming snowmobile and ice fishing seasons could be in jeopardy.
Phillips says businesses are desperately hoping that customers stay in a winter mood as temperatures hover above zero - otherwise, the season may be over before it begins.
"If your livelihood depends on winter, you're getting to the point where you're beginning to really worry," Phillips said. "There's no insurance, there's no government bailouts that can help you out, and you really depend on nature - and nature has just been absent."
Latest lodging report (week ending December 23rd) from the Canadian hotel industry showing 'revenue per available room' (RevPAR).
|Newfoundland & Labrador||$18.13|
|Prince Edward Island||$11.92|
RevPAR is typically defined as room revenue divided by rooms available.
Tourism sales in U.S. dip for first time in four years
U.S. tourism sales declined in the third quarter, the first slowdown in four years, on the back of new security restrictions for air travel announced in August, the U.S. Commerce Department said recently. Tourism sales dropped to $583.98 billion in the third quarter, from a revised $586.42 billion in the second quarter, for a decline of 1.7% on an annualized basis. U.S. security officials banned passengers from carrying liquids onto planes after British officials said they foiled a plot to bomb flights to the United States during the second week of August. Passenger air travel plunged 11.6% in the third quarter, as the restrictions on carry-on items added to travel woes.
U.S. trying to hit original deadline on passports for land/sea travellers
Now that Canadians and returning residents flying into the U.S. will require passports starting Jan. 23, American officials say they want to hit their original deadline for people entering by land and sea.
This fall, the U.S. Congress approved a 17-month delay in implementing strict identification measures at land crossings and seaports by Jan. 1, 2008. But the Homeland Security Department said Wednesday they're working to meet the requirements "as soon as possible," promising "ample advance notice" so people can get the documents they need.
In September, Congress allowed some leeway on the new security plan, until mid-2009, after a massive lobbying effort by the Canadian government, some U.S. politicians and business groups on both sides of the border. They complained the changes couldn't be completed in time without crippling trade and causing massive tie-ups at the border.
"We have every intention of implementing the land rule more rapidly than June 2009," senior Homeland official Paul Rosenzweig told a forum this week. But Frank Moss, the State Department's deputy assistant secretary for passport services, said there are a lot of milestones to hit. "We're trying to get this done as quickly as possible but obviously we have real issues," said Moss. "We know we have a big challenge out there on the land border. "We're going to get this right," he said. "I don't know what the timeline is because we have so many steps to go through."
The U.S. released plans last month for a wallet-sized identity card Americans could use to re-enter the country from Canada instead of a passport. At US$35 for children and $45 for adults, it's cheaper than a traditional passport that costs about $97. Only 25% of Americans have passports.
Canada still hasn't decided whether it will follow Washington's lead and produce a high-technology document that establishes nationality. The two countries have been talking about what options will be acceptable for Canadians. Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day has said enhanced driver's licenses are possible.
The U.S. is seeking industry comments on the new machine-readable card before awarding the contract. The State Department wants to start producing them by next summer.
German tourist ends up in Sidney instead of Sydney!
A 21-year-old German tourist who wanted to visit his girlfriend in Sydney, Australia, landed 13,000 kilometers away near Sidney, Montana, after mistyping his destination on a flight booking website.
Dressed for the Australian summer in t-shirt and shorts, Tobi Gutt left Germany on Saturday for a four-week holiday, but instead of arriving "down under," he found himself on a different continent and bound for the chilly state of Montana.
"I did wonder but I didn't want to say anything," Gutt told the Bild newspaper. "I thought to myself, you can fly to Australia via the United States."
Gutt's airline ticket routed him via the city of Portland, Oregon, to Billings, Montana and only as he was about to board a commuter flight to Sidney, an oil town of about 5,000 people, did he realize his mistake. The hapless tourist, who had only a thin jacket to keep out the winter cold, spent three days in Billings airport before he was able to buy a new ticket to Australia with €600 in cash that his parents and friends sent over from Germany. "I didn't notice the mistake as my son is usually good with computers," his mother, Sabine, told Reuters.
Québec - Mont Tremblant
The federal government will contribute up to $47.5 million toward the development of public infrastructure, such as roads and sidewalks, at Mont Tremblant. This contribution is consistent with an equivalent contribution from the Government of Québec.
"Without the governments' participation in financing the infrastructure, Tremblant would never have become the most important tourism project in North America," said Bryce Fraser G.M. of Station Mont Tremblant. "With investments of more than $1 billion, the project strongly supports the local, Québec and Canadian economy. In recognizing Tremblant's potential, the Government of Canada is taking part in the development of this unique destination."
Under the agreement with the Government of Canada, Station Mont Tremblant will transfer public infrastructure to the municipality of Mont Tremblant. This includes roadways, sidewalks, water and wastewater systems, and recreational paths.
Online bookings will surpass offline bookings for the first time in 2007
According to a new report from PhoCusWright Inc., for the first time transactions on the Internet in 2007 will account for over half (54%) of all U.S. travel bookings.
Other insights from the report include:
Visitor traffic to holiday homes.canada (www.holidayhomes.ca) & For Rent By Owner in Canada (www.FRBO.ca) web sites for the month of December 2005:
Total 'hits' for the month = 161,049 hits (5,195 per day)
Total 'unique visits' for the month = 12,061 (389 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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