MISSISSAUGA – More than half of Canadians plan to take a staycation and travel within their home province this summer, according to a new survey released by BMO.
The news may sound good for local tourism boards but the Bank of Montreal’s 2014 Summer Travel Outlook found that not only will Canadians travel closer to home, they will scale back on their budgets.
“They want to pay down their debt,” Tony Tintinalli, a regional VP at BMO said. “They still want to take a summer vacation, so they’re just going to take advantage of Canada this year.”
The survey, conducted by Pollara, found that cost-conscious Canadians will spend about $1802 on summer travel – 20 percent less than 2013 ($2226).
Tourism officials in Toronto say the local traveller is their most valuable asset but say the study could be good or bad: more local travellers is good, but if they’re spending less, even fighting for local tourism dollars becomes more competitive.
“Domestic visitors make up about half of the tourism revenue” Andrew Weir, VP of communications with Tourism Toronto said. “When you’re looking at a $6.5 billion in tourism revenue – over $3 billion of that is from the domestic market.”
Approximately 350,000 people are employed in Toronto’s tourism industry and they rely on the repeated visits of so-called locals, says Tourism Toronto.
“The challenge for us is inviting them back every year – and offering people something new that they didn’t experience the last time they were here,” Weir said.
Tourism Toronto is touting the first summer season of Ripley’s Aquarium. The destination opened at the base of the CN Tower in the fall of 2013 and tourist officials are hoping Ontario travellers visit for the first time.
Eighty-five percent of all domestic tourists are from Ontario – roughly 8.5 million people annually.
“It is a very important base market for us,” Weir said.
According to BMO, 68 percent of Canadians say the change in travel spending plans is because of rising gas prices. Another 23 percent say they are scaling back in order to save more money.