With the arrival of spring break, a new study reveals that Canadians may be getting away more often in 2012, with many travelling outside the country.
According to a recent poll conducted by BMO Bank of Montreal, Canadians anticipate vacationing more frequently this year than they did in 2011.
Sal Guatieri, senior economist for BMO Capital Markets, noted that consumers desire to travel may be driven by more advantageous economic conditions.
"Over the last two years, the strong Canadian dollar and relatively favourable income growth have made vacation travel outside of Canada much more attractive," said Guatieri. "We expect these conditions to similarly influence Canadians' travel plans in 2012."
And if travellers' buying activity in 2011 is any indication of what will transpire this year, they'll be spending more too. For example, in the third quarter of 2011, travel spending among Canadian consumers rose more than 11 per cent to $7.3 billion on a year-over-year basis. Of that total, $4 billion was spent in the U.S., 18 per cent more than the same three-month period in 2010.
However, if travellers are looking to pinch pennies and lodge in hotels that are affordable, they may want to stay away from some traditionally popular spots.
According to a new survey conducted by CheapHotels.org, Key West, Florida - one of the most popular travel destinations, particularly during spring break - has one of the most expensive average hotel rates in the U.S., costing travellers as much as $204 per night throughout most of March.
Other locations that will hit travellers hard in the wallet include South Beach Miami and Panama City Beach, both of which are also located in Florida. South Padre Island in Texas and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic round out the most expensive spring break destinations for hotels.
Despite the high cost of lodging, Sue McVey, vice president of BMO Bank of Montreal, said the U.S. is a perennial favourite destination for Canada vacationers.
"The United States remains the top travel destination outside Canada, with New York, Florida and Washington being the most visited states," said McVey.
Foreign destinations are popular as well, she noted, as Mexico, the United Kingdom and France are the most heavily frequented countries for Canadians if they're not travelling domestically or in the U.S. Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia are the top places for Canadians who prefer staying closer to home.
But domestic travel is not expected to offset Canada's international travel market, which totaled nearly $16 billion last year alone, up more than $1.5 billion when contrasted with the previous year. Furthermore, because vacations within Canada are expected to be moderate in 2012, BMO Bank of Montreal says travel industries - such as travel insurance providers, entertainment attractions and restaurant chains - will need to develop new ways of appealing to customers amid tough competition.