Monday, November 12

Students are spending more while travelling

A fall afternoon on Mount St-Hilaire, Quebec
Photo: Claude-Jean Harel

(Originally published in TOURISM)

Travelmole's David Wilkening reports that a new survey shows the average spent by young people on a trip abroad is now $2,600, a 39% rise since 2002. That's an 8% growth, which is more than inflation and slightly higher than the growth in travel expenditures across the population, says the World Youth Student & Educational Travel Confederation (WYSE).

"Overall, the global youth travel market will be worth US$154 billion this year," the group says. The report also shows young travellers are early adopters of new travel technology, with more than 80% now using the internet to search for information before departing on their trip, up from 70% in 2002.

When asked what were the most valuable features of travel websites, respondents noted the ability to compare prices and the availability of information about destinations, both of which were cited by over 80%. Less than 60% identified the ability to book their entire trip on the same website or the ability to save their enquiry on the site as valuable.

Gaspé has high hopes for the cruise sector

(Originally published in TOURISM)

Radio-Canada reports that by 2010, the town of Gaspé hopes to welcome cruise ships with a capacity of between 1500 and 3000 passengers. The ships currently making Gaspé a port of call rarely carry more that 400 to 500 passengers.

The Gaspé region harbours a number of potential draws for tourists who go on cruises, according to the executive director of Gaspé's visitors and conventions bureau Stéphane Sainte-Croix: "Our national parks are major assets in our tourism offering, as is the presence of the Port of Gaspé, which is open year-round and provides berthing space for sizeable ships."

The report mentions how the quality of port infrastructure could be a determinant in Tourisme Québec's upcoming choice of ports of call for the province. The intent, according to Gaspé Chamber of Commerce director Julie Bouffard, "is to be able to provide a variety of suitable programs, towns and ports that are market-ready for the cruise sector."

Canadian hotel construction booms

(Originally published in TOURISM)

An astounding 2000 more hotel rooms are being created in Montréal over the next two years. Two international hotel companies, Ritz-Carlton and Starwood Hotel's, are investing $100 million dollar each into their respective properties, and another big spend on property is an $80 million dollar investment in the Crystal de la Montagne, located in the heart of Montréal's downtown shopping area, according to an article published in eTurboNews. The report says the project with the biggest budget is the $400-million redevelopment project for Montréal's historic former Viger Station Hotel.

The article states that a brand new concept for cheap-chic hotels, offering affordable accommodation without compromising on design and comfort, has been introduced in Montréal by ALT Hotels; in addition to the leisure market, ALT Hotels will also target business, meetings and convention market. To serve this clientele, the hotel will have more than 5,000 square feet of space for business meetings including a main conference room located on the top floor, with breath-taking views of Montreal.

The luxury-hotel boom is well underway with close to 1,000 luxury hotel rooms opening up across Toronto. In August 2007, Toronto saw the opening of The Hazelton Hotel, the first five-star hotel in the city. According to eTurboNews, by 2010 Toronto will have four new 5-star hotels with major players such as Trump, the Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons and Shangri-La. And, existing hotels have stepped it up a notch by undergoing extensive refurbishments in 2007.

Luxury boutique hotels are also opening up in Canada, with properties like the Montréal Buddha Bar Hotel which will have 106 rooms and will be located in the former building of the Provincial Bank. In Vancouver, the Melville area is fast becoming a hotbed of upscale boutique hotels, including the 127-room Ritz-Carlton, the 77-room Loden Vancouver, the Shangri-La Hotel, and the Coast Coal Harbour Hotel will be a four-star hotel offering a range of accommodation for business and leisure travellers.

Wi-Fi hotspots keep growing

(Originally published in TOURISM) reports that a recent report from research firm In-Stat suggests Wi-Fi use is on the rise due to the proliferation of hotspots. The data are mixed however, according to an article by Tim Wilson, in that some areas are a lot hotter than others.

"People use Wi-Fi in hotels, airports, and cafes," says Daryl Schoolar, senior analyst at In-Stat and the author of the report. "You don't have a lot of people using Wi-Fi outdoors." Schoolar says this is one of the reasons why municipal Wi-Fi networks have struggled: the blanket access model doesn't reflect usage.

Canada fertile ground for voluntourism

A group of vocational agriculture students from Belgium on a study tour in Saskatchewan: it goes both ways

(Originally published in TOURISM)

Though Canada is often called an "incubator" for voluntourists - we produce great ones and they go abroad - Canada is also fertile ground (literally speaking) for voluntourism.

Voluntouring - a vacation experience wherein travellers give a portion (or all) of their travel time to a volunteer project or cause - has existed in one form or another for quite a few years. But, ecotourism and "eco-friendliness", other hot contemporary buzzwords, might be propelling the trend to greater popularity than ever before.

Given our vast geography and natural beauty, Canada is an especially fitting choice for environmentally-friendly and altruistic globe-trotters. On top of that, a voluntour vacation is a unique way for Canadian tour operators to re-brand existing assets. Take, for instance, the tried and true nature hike. Add the opportunity for travellers to restore the hiking trail, and voilà: you have both a new eco-friendly product and the ability to reach a new consumer segment.

Here's a sampling of the voluntours Canada currently has on offer:

Organizer Earthwatch Institute offers travellers the chance to help researchers track and map whales off the shorelines of the Great Bear Rainforest.

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) aims to teach travellers about organic farming. WOOOF has farms across Canada that help voluntourists hone their homesteading skills.

The Mingan Island Cetacean Study (MICS) is a research organization that invites travellers on day trips and week-long trips in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to study blue, humpback, fin and minke whales. "Research apprentices," travellers snap pics, collect data, and participate in whale biopsies.

Korean market takes a new look at Canada

(Originally published in TOURISM)

In a report to industry partners, Tourism Saskatchewan's manager of international marketing Ted Hornung provides an insightful account of his participation at the CTC's Showcase Canada in Seoul, Korea: "The Korean market is changing and quite quickly at that," he notes. "For many years the Korean traveller was a group traveller sticking pretty close to BC, Alberta and Niagara Falls. This is changing because of increasing interest in the FIT market, with more fly/drive packages."

According to Hornung, Korean travellers are more fluent in English than they were, they benefit from higher disposable income, and they are not afraid to strike it out on their own. "There also is an increase in women-based tours, such as friends or mother/daughter trips. Koreans want to see interesting places; yet they want to experience them by 'doing' and becoming involved."

The following are some of the trends with room for growth for Canadian suppliers Hornung sees emerging in the Korean market:

* Expanding travel further East
* English-as-a-second-language programs
* Home stay programs
* More e-marketing
* Attending more consumer shows
* Experiential travel
* 50+ market
* Family travel
* Trekking
* Cuisine

Hornung says the age of travellers in the mother/daughter segment is generally between 40 and 60 years of age (for the parent) and 10 to 30 years of age (for the child). "The maximum travel time has not changed that much, with 10 to12-day maximums (door to door).

"There is also an increase in credit card companies getting into the travel business, offering their card users travel opportunities," Hornung goes on. "More and more Koreans are using the internet as a major source of their information gathering, but still are strongly drawn to book their travel with travel agencies." However, Hornung notes this is also starting to change.

Tourism for Tomorrow Awards deadline December 5

(Originally published in TOURISM)

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is inviting participation in the 2008 edition of the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards.

There are four categories for entry: the Destination Award (for destinations of any size which show a commitment to responsible tourism development); the Conservation Award (for any tourism organization committed to the protection of natural heritage); the Investor in People Award (for any tourism organization which shows a commitment to human resource development and local community involvement); and the Global Tourism Business Award (for a tourism business of at least 200 employees operating in more than one destination which demonstrates responsible tourism practices).

The deadline for entries is December 5, 2007. Winners and finalists will be invited to attend a special ceremony during the 8th Global Travel & Tourism Summit held in Dubai in spring 2008.

Travel Trade: Brits taking extreme sport risk

(Originally published in TOURISM)

On-line personal finance consumer E-zine The Thrifty Scot ( reports that many Brits would participate in an extreme sport abroad, knowing they weren't covered for the activity under their travel insurance deal. Research shows 17% of adults in the UK would get involved in adrenaline-based pastimes such as tobogganing, off-piste snowboarding and even lake ice diving, without having the appropriate coverage.

Travel insurance spokesman Jacky Brown cautions that it is not worthwhile for holiday-makers heading to the slopes to take their chances: "Any winter sports holiday comes with a certain element of risk; whether on a nursery slope or a black run, accidents do happen and it's crucial to have medical coverage to avoid footing a hefty bill."

It was found that 27% of those asked believe that all annual travel policies cover skiing as standard. This is not the case.