The falling Canadian dollar has changed the flying habits of Canadian families this year as they look for travel bargains, according to the experts at FlightHub, Canada’s largest online travel agency.
FlightHub analyzed the most popular destinations for Canadian families in 2015 and compared the numbers to the previous year. Most American cities saw a decline in bookings, while Canadian cities saw solid increases.
“These changes are definitely because of the falling Canadian dollar. There’s no doubt about that,” said Henri Chelhot, the Business Unit Leader of FlightHub and JustFly. “The trend is too predominant to ignore when we see so many U.S. cities have such a big drop. In Canada, you have the opposite. Canadian cities are benefitting from this.”
The biggest winners this year were Vancouver, Manila, Calgary and London, while the largest declines were for flights to Los Angeles, Miami and Cancun.
Here’s a closer look at which cities made FlightHub’s top 10 and why:
The magic of Disney and the pull of Orlando’s other theme parks continue to attract Canadian families year after year, despite the falling dollar. “If you’re going to be taking your family anywhere for the holidays, the number one spot is pretty much Disneyworld and you also have Universal,“ said Chelhot. “I would predict that Orlando will stay in our top three for a long time, unless flights there suddenly became too expensive.” Many travellers have also discovered that the Florida city has many other fine attractions beyond the theme parks that keep them coming back for return visits. (Position last year: 1)
The Philippines is third on the list of countries of origin of new Canadians and is home to many more Filipinos who work here temporarily. Strong family ties mean trips back home are frequent, which is why Manila ranks so high among destinations for people flying from Canada. Chelhot also notes that Manila is one of the cheapest places to fly to in Asia which might be a factor. (Position last year: 7)
As Canada’s largest city, it’s no surprise that Toronto is the most common destination in the country for families. “Toronto is pretty much a given,” said Chelhot. “Everyone’s either flying home or flying through there for the holidays. The value of the dollar doesn’t affect the people who fly there year in and year out.” While visiting friends and family is one of the most common reasons for flying there, Toronto has become a powerful tourist draw in its own right with attractions like the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium and the Royal Ontario Museum being just a few of the best-known ones. (Position last year: 3 )
4. Fort Lauderdale
Florida is one of the most popular places for Canadians to spend a vacation and Fort Lauderdale is a great entry point into the Sunshine state. It has avoided some of the decline seen in other American cities because it offers some of the most affordable vacation packages around, said FlightHub’s Chelhot. It’s also a busy embarkation port for many Caribbean cruise ships. (Position last year: 4)
5. Los Angeles
The City of Angels is the home of Hollywood and Disneyland so it is popular with many Canadian visitors, especially those travelling from Vancouver and other western cities. Its ranking has fallen because of the decline in the Canadian dollar and the shift of travellers to other destinations such as Hawaii, one of the few American regions to see an increase in flight bookings on FlightHub in 2015. (Position last year: 2)
Vancouver just might be the most beautiful city in Canada and some would argue the world. That has helped draw many people there to visit and many are staying, meaning lots of families are coming to visit from elsewhere in the country. Its location on the Pacific Ocean also makes it an important connection point to Asia. (Position last year: 12)
The post-Olympic tourism boom and the continued interest in the British Royal Family are just a few of the factors that have helped London edge out Paris as the most-visited city in the world. An increasing number of Canadians are adding to those arrival numbers, pushing the city even higher up the FlightHub charts. (Position last year: 10)
Miami is the largest city in Florida and one where many Canadian snowbirds like to spend their winters, but the fall in spending power of the Canadian dollar means fewer of them are heading south to spend time on the beach or are seeking cheaper destinations in the state. (Position last year: 5)
FlightHub has seen a boost in flight traffic to most Canadian cities in 2015 and Calgary is no exception. The business capital of Alberta is also the gateway to the Rockies and home to the Calgary Stampede, both big tourist draws that bring families to the city in growing numbers. (Position last year: 13)
Mexico’s all-inclusive capital remains a big draw for people from places like Toronto and Montreal looking for an affordable holiday, but its popularity has waned in recent years as Canadians have been exploring other parts of Mexico instead. FlightHub has seen big increases in traffic to Puerto Vallerta and Mexico City. (Position last year: 8)