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More Americans get passports, easing worry about a tourism drought
A plan to tighten U.S. borders by requiring passports or tamper-resistant identification cards from everyone entering the country by land from Mexico and Canada has been delayed.
U.S. House and Senate lawmakers agreed to push back the program by 17 months, saying they want to make sure new ID cards being developed by the Bush administration will better secure borders against terrorists without slowing legitimate travellers from Canada and Mexico. The new ID's will be required for Americans and all others entering the U.S.
Worries that tighter passport rules will hamstring tourism to Canada may be misplaced, as Americans are getting passports at the rate of more than 200,000 every week.
John Moss, deputy assistant secretary for passport services, said Washington issued about 7 million passports a year as late as 2003. But the numbers have risen sharply since then.
"As of earlier this week, we actually crossed the threshold of 70 million Americans fully documented with valid passports," he said. He said these figures should be good news for Canadian tourism operators and others worried about shrinking numbers of American visitors.
"My message would be that even though only about 26% of American citizens have passports right now, that percentage has nearly doubled in the last 10 years and there's every indication that will continue for the next decade."
There is a big campaign on to persuade Americans to get travel documents.
For instance, he said, he expects Washington will shortly announce details of its plan to offer a wallet-size passport card as an alternative, or a complement, to the standard passport booklet.
The card is expected to cost about half of the US$97 price of a standard passport, he said, and will offer convenience, especially for frequent travellers.
"We see this as really key for people who are travelling across the border on a regular basis."
So far, Canada has not decided whether it will follow Washington's lead and produce some kind of wallet-size passport. Moss said there are continuing talks between the two countries.
Tourism spending up in second quarter
Tourism spending in Canada rose 0.8% in the second quarter, as spending from foreign visitors finally turned around after 5 straight quarters of declines. However, the pace of spending growth from domestic tourists dipped to a 2-year low, as Canadians increasingly look abroad for their travels.
Statistics Canada reported that spending by international visitors rose 1.6% in the quarter, reversing course after slumping 8.9% over the previous 5 quarters dating back to the start of 2005.
The number of overnight visitors from the U.S. rose 2.5%, the first increase in 7 quarters, although same-day U.S. visitors declined 2.3%.
"On average, overnight visitors stay 3 or 4 days in the country and spend 8 times as much as same-day visitors," Statscan noted. Domestic tourist spending rose 0.6% in the quarter, its slowest pace in 2 years, although the modest gain did extend the string of positive quarters to 8 straight.
Latest lodging report (week ending September 30th) from the Canadian hotel industry showing 'revenue per available room' (RevPAR).
|Newfoundland & Labrador||$83.91|
|Prince Edward Island||$71.61|
RevPAR is typically defined as room revenue divided by rooms available.
Climate change to drive radical changes in global tourism
In less than 25 years climate change will have a radical impact on the global travel industry.
A recent report reveals that by 2030 global average temperatures are likely to be at least 1°C higher and possibly as much as 2°C.
While this doesn't sound very much, the implications could be dramatic for global vacation destinations.
By 2030 global sea levels could be 72 mm higher but accelerated melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets could contribute to levels of 25cm. Every one mm sea-level rise translates into 1.5 metre retreat of the shoreline. This means by 2030 shorelines could be expected to have retreated by at least 108m, and possibly by up to 375m, equivalent to the height of the Empire State building. This would wipe out beaches across the globe and coastal communities and amenities such as hotels, golf courses and retail facilities would be threatened.
The report predicts a fundamental shift in vacation destinations in less than 25 years with a reversal of the traditional trend for north to south 'migration' that accounts for 70% of all international travel.
In the U.S. the state of Florida is extremely low lying, with much of the south, in particular, close to sea level. Without the construction of coastal defences, a sea-level rise of between 7 and 25 cm could result in the sea making inroads of between 100 and 400 m inland. This would ensure the loss of Florida's typically low-gradient beaches along both coasts, and also seriously affect the coastal ecosystems of the Florida Keys. Increasingly, the Everglades would suffer due to seawater infiltration, higher tides and bigger storm surges, especially if the protective mangrove barrier is lost as sea levels rise. As well as rising temperatures and climbing sea levels there will an increase in extreme weather events, including drought, torrential rainfall, floods and storms. In Florida beaches may be lost to rising seas with ever-more powerful hurricanes threatening property and people.
Conversely, climate change could have a positive impact on tourism in northern countries like the U.K., Sweden and Canada.
Vacationers will be switching their main holidays from the summer to the winter and spring as they will be discouraged from travelling to southern resorts by increased drought, flash floods and the loss of coastal real estate.
By 2030 even the traditional "snowbird" migration to a Florida or Mexican beach resort may be consigned to the scrap heap of history. Increased temperatures will make southern beach destinations too hot for many travellers.
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'Internet generation' to fuel further online travel growth
The 'internet generation' of 15-24 year olds who spend 3 hours a week on the net will drive future growth of online travel. It is predicted that with some $115 billion worth of travel product sold worldwide online currently, it is this internet and technology-orientated generation who will drive the growth of internet travel exponentially in the next few years.
More than a quarter of the younger age group said they spend more time on the net than they do reading national newspapers, a traditional medium for travel advertising.
The internet is only 14 years old and yet in the past decade 30 million internet users have grown to over one billion, with numbers still rising.
Visitor traffic to holiday homes.canada (www.holidayhomes.ca) & For Rent By Owner in Canada (www.FRBO.ca) web sites for the month of September 2005:
Total 'hits' for the month = 156,033 hits (5,201 per day)
Total 'unique visits' for the month = 11,761 (392 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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