The Hotel Association of Canada says Canadians’ travel intentions have “softened.”
In a recent annual poll 70% of Canadians said they planned to take a domestic trip some time in 2008, down from 78% in last year’s survey, the association said. Major reasons for the decline included “financial concerns” and “higher gas/energy prices,” according to Oilweek Magazine.
In 2006, just 3% of people cited the price of gas as a reason for traveling less, compared to 22% in the latest poll, said Anthony Pollard, association president.
Tourism officials across the country think vacationers will adapt in various ways to the high gas prices.
“The added fuel expense may compel consumers to make different travel choices, such as flying rather than driving, or choosing to take shorter vacations and staying closer to home,” said Kevin Desjardins of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.
Some provinces are launching vacation-at-home campaigns – including a Travel Alberta program and one called “Celebrate Manitoba” – geared to local residents to offset an expected in arrivals of outsiders.
“It is our belief and hope that Albertans and western Canadians will remain more regional and that traffic will continue to flow,” said Kelly Killick-Smit of the David Thompson Resort in the Rocky Mountains near Nordegg, Alberta.
The resort gives guests a 3-cent-a-liter discount on fuel bought at an on-site pump.
Such gas-rebate incentives are growing within the hospitality industry. The Sheraton Ottawa Hotel has a “Drive and Stay and Save” summer package that includes a $10 rebate nightly. Some Marriott properties and Choice hotels also offer gasoline-related deals.
Opting for air travel or a cruise ship vacation probably won’t offer an escape from higher fuel prices, since surcharges have been imposed – but the situation with trains is different.
“We don’t have any fuel surcharges planned,” said Malcolm Andrews of Via Rail, adding that this summer is shaping up to be a busy one.
You can take your bike on Via, especially on the Bike Train between Toronto and Niagara Falls, Ontario, for two-wheeled day-trips. You can also stow a canoe on board on some routes.
People who tow recreational vehicles are “looking more at seasonal campsites or purchasing RV lots and parking them instead of traveling to different destinations,” said Adam Ledwon of Spring Lake RV Resort west of Edmonton, Alberta.
The Canadian Automobile Association has found that the number of TripTiks – planned travel routings – requested over the past year is “up slightly,” said Edyta Zdancewicz of CAA South Central Ontario in Toronto.
“That shows us that people are still traveling by car but they are traveling wisely by planning their route and looking for the most direct way to get to their destination,” she said.