As temperatures dipped to -30 C, hundreds of people packed the first annual Edmonton Travel Show, many filled with the dream or hope of escaping the frigid temperatures.
The show, which was organized by Travel Gurus in conjunction with the Edmonton International Airport, was held at the Renaissance Edmonton Airport Hotel on Sunday.
Approximately 50 vendors filled a ballroom as would-be travellers clamoured for information about organized tours, airline destinations and travel spots such as Jamaica, Kelowna and Las Vegas.
Hidar Elmais, travel show organizer and owner of Travel Gurus, said the cold weather is playing a factor in many travel plans.
“It’s really nice to have the travel show during this peak time as a lot of people want to travel during this time. It’s a great time for them to come out and enjoy product knowledge from a bunch of suppliers,” he said.
Jazmine Struthers said she attended the travel show to scope out any specials or discounts for upcoming trips.
Struthers is planning to travel to New York City, Disney World and Vancouver this year and admits the cold played a factor in her decision to get away. She said some vacations were planned before the cold snap and some during.
“Every time, this time of year — January, February — get me out of here,” she said.
“I start to plan my vacations coming up so I have something to look forward to.”
Jennifer McClure is planning to visit the United Kingdom in May; she and her partner were at the travel show to pick up tips and tricks for their vacation.
“It’s a wonderful thing to be able to dream about going to someplace warm when it’s minus stupid,” she said.
That sentiment is good for business.
“It’s a fact in the industry – there’s nothing like a good snow forecast for a week to make people think, ‘Hey, honey, maybe it’s time to make those plans to get the heck out of here,’” said David Tait, executive chairman of Flair Airlines.
The budget airline has added service from Edmonton to destinations such as Orlando, Miami, Palm Springs, Las Vegas and Mesa, Arizona.
Blair Hirtle, Western Canada account manager for Visit Las Vegas, said many people stopping by his booth were desperate to escape the cold.
“They’re certainly looking at some destinations south of the border to get some sun,” he said.
“Just looking outside, it’s -30 C and Las Vegas, well, it’s going to be 17 C next week. I think it’s a good opportunity for all the consumers to check out what’s new in Las Vegas.”
Organizers hope the travel show at the airport will become an annual event.