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Passport restrictions inhibit travel
New American rules that will require travellers to show passports or "other secure documents" when entering or re-entering the United States are threatening travel between Canada and the U.S., and the tourism industry is taking action.
Over 20 groups with a stake in cross-border travel have formed an international Passport Coalition to address the challenges posed by the new rules, announced earlier this year as part of the U.S. government's Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). When the proposed phase-in period ends on December 31, 2007, Canadian citizens travelling to the United States and U.S. residents returning home via land border crossings will be required to show passports or as-yet-undefined "other secure documents".
The coalition is seeking the postponement of all new passport requirements until January 2008, in order to give the tourism industry and the travelling public time to adapt, as well as the need for an immediate definition of which "other secure documents" will be accepted in place of passports.
"The publicity surrounding the new passport requirements is already having a deterrent effect on cross-border travel," said Tourism Industry Association of Canada President Randy Williams. "Travellers are confused and anxious - and more likely to stay home or choose another destination." He referenced a Canadian Tourism Institute study which estimates that from 2005 to 2008, the WHTI will reduce Canadian tourism receipts by $1.6 billion - an amount comparable to the $1.5 billion hit that SARS delivered to Canada's tourism economy in 2003.
Travel to Canada drops
Travel to Canada fell to its lowest monthly level in nearly a year in June, according to Statistics Canada.
Travel from overseas countries rose for a 7th consecutive month, but that was more than offset by a drop in the number of American visitors. The drop in Americans was primarily due to fewer Americans making same-day car trips north of the border. Just over 2.7 million Americans visited, down 0.4% from a month earlier. There were 398,000 overseas visitors, up 1.6% from May. A total of 3.1 million people visited Canada in June, down 0.1% from May.
Latest lodging report (week ending August 27th) from the Canadian hotel industry showing 'revenue per available room' (RevPAR).
|Newfoundland & Labrador||$88.00|
|Prince Edward Island||$87.27|
*RevPAR is typically defined as room revenue divided by rooms available.
London hotel to designate women-only wing
A five-star hotel opening this month in London will feature 68 rooms in a wing for women only, featuring Hollywood-style backlit makeup tables.
The Grange City Hotel will also use only female room service staff in the seven-story hotel's women's wing. Other amenities include illuminated wardrobes and high-powered hairdryers.
Consumers use the Web to plan or purchase travel
Consumers are turning to the Internet in unprecedented number for their travel planning and purchasing needs, according to independent research conducted by Feedback Research.
Results indicated that 88% of survey respondents who went or are planning to go on summer vacation using or planning to use the Internet to research and/or purchase their summer vacation arrangements this year.
61% of respondents who went or were planning to go on summer vacation this year purchased or planned to purchase airline tickets online, (+11% vs. those who went on a summer vacation last year).
52% purchased or planned to purchase accommodations online, (+12% increase from last year).
Further results indicate:
New vacation companion: the laptop computer?
A survey of U.S. adult computer users conducted by Harris Interactive, reveals that 34% of respondents or their families have taken a laptop PC with them on vacation and half of all respondents are likely to take a laptop PC on a future vacation.
Visitor traffic to holiday homes.canada (www.holidayhomes.ca) & For Rent By Owner in Canada (www.FRBO.ca) web sites for the month of August 2005:
Total 'hits' for the month = 133,072 hits (4,292 per day)
Total 'unique visits' for the month = 10,203 (329 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.
There are a number of scams currently doing the rounds that are targeting the travel industry. Here are descriptions of two from property owners who took the time to write to us and kindly agreed to allow us to reproduce their notes:
From: Dot & Jim Garbet, Maple Tree Lane B&B, Vancouver Island, B.C.
"This has just happened to me and I want all to know about this scam.
From Indonesia - a travel agent, complete with an address, phone no. and email address - makes a booking with you - a substantial one of 10 days, 2 or 3 rooms. She supplies all the information that you request including the clients full name, address, email address and credit card no., complete with signature, and sends it all by email or fax. This is payment of the full holiday, including gratuities. I complete the transaction and all goes through so I then send the commission.
The correspondence continues until the commission has been received at that end. The day arrives for the clients to arrive and no one does. You try to reach the travel agent and are not successful. So unless last minute drive in guests arrive to fill in the rooms, you are on "paid vacation", you think.
Ah, then several weeks later you receive a "charge back" from Visa or M/C . Wow, that is a shocker. You are told that this is not uncommon. The credit card co. calls it a fraud - Card Absent Environment, meaning that the client did not personally sign the transaction in front of you. so you have no comeback. So upon investigation, you find that there is no registered travel agent by that name and all emails are returned as undeliverable.
This leaves you out that full amount and the commission is what the fraud travel agent has in hand. I think that this should be passed on to all who subscribe to your site so that the small B&B operator will not be taken advantage of as I was. The organizations of legal travel agencies throughout the world, that are listed on the internet, would also be helpful for us, as small operators to access and check before committing to off shore internet bookings. I found IATA, PATA, ABTA and I'm sure that there are many more."
From: Gael & Jim Phillips, St. Ives Farm, Grand Lake, New Brunswick
"You may want to warn your subscribers of a scam from Nigeria/Benin who responded to our listing.
Goes this way: a Pat/Richard Manea e-mail to enquire on availability of lodging - they are art collectors coming to Canada, etc. They send a Postal Money Order purchased in Canada by a 3rd party - the MO is more than required so they ask to return the excess to them to assist with their flight etc. They are desperate for money and on it goes.
The MO has been "washed" and the amount altered! C.I.B.C. tells me it is a well known scam."
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