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Canadian Arrivals Continue Double Digit Decline; is it the Exchange Rate or Does Your Marketing Strategy Need an Upgrade?
Monthly arrivals from Canada dropped at a double digit rate in September, down more than 15 percent compared to the same month of 1997. Arrivals of one or more nights registered just over one million.
The negative performance for the month of September was a result of the continued steep declines in most modes of transportation to the U.S. However, rail travel showed a 6 percent increase over the same period of 1997 while Pedestrian/Other increased by the same amount. In the case of Rail travel, this is the first positive performance in this mode since April 1998, the only other month to register in the black. Pedestrian/Other has had 4 positive months thus far in 1998, the last being in May 1998.
Conversely, air travel declined at its greatest rate for the year, down nearly 8 percent. This follows a 2 percent decline in August. Air travel was at its lowest single month volume, registering 277,000 trips of one or more nights.
Longer duration auto travel was particularly hard hit with trips of two or more nights' duration decreasing nearly 22 percent. Single night trips fell less dramatically than in August, down 12 percent (compared to 26% in August).
Bus travel posted its deepest decline since the inclement weather of March 1998, down 16 percent.
Year-to-date arrivals from Canada were down nearly 12 percent, with 10.7 million travelers of one or more nights recorded in the first nine months of 1998.
Canadian Tourism Commission's Research Director, Gerald Bailie, notes: "For the first nine months of 1998, Canada's travel account deficit has decreased by 42% to $1.4 billion, down from $2.4 billion in 1997. This is the lowest three quarter deficit in 10 years [for Canada].
"A significant increase in total receipts, up 11% to $11.1 billion combined with a slight drop in total payments, down 0.7% to $12.5 billion, resulted in the deficit being nearly cut in half in the Jan-Sept period of 1998.
"The increase in receipts is being driven by the US market [that is, U.S. travelers visiting Canada]. Total receipts from the US were up 24% to $7.0 billion in the first nine months; in contrast, Canadian payments to the US fell by 3% to $7.8 billion. Strong economic conditions and consumer confidence in the US combined with Open Skies, the low Canadian dollar and the industry's concerted marketing efforts are behind this increase in US receipts [to Canada].
"On the other side of the coin, the level of the Canadian dollar has reduced Canadian tourist travel south of the border this year [and, accordingly, expenditures].
"From overseas, total receipts fell by 5% to $4.1 billion, while Canadian payments increased by 8% to $4.7 billion. Global financial turmoil has negatively impacted the number of overseas tourists to Canada from some of this country's main generating markets. On the other hand, overseas outbound travel by Canadians continues to increase in spite of currency and financial fluctuations."
The dollar issue may not be the only thing keeping Canadian travelers from coming to the U.S. Tourism and destination marketers need to be concerned with the fact that Canadian travel to other countries has increased despite the decline in the Canadian dollar. In fact, travel to destinations other than the U.S. has increased by nearly 43 percent since the peak year of Canadian outbound travel, 1991. Since that peak year, Canadian travel to the U.S. declined almost 21 percent.
Given the fact that Canadians are traveling in increasing numbers to other destinations, even to places like the UK where their buying power is equally stretched, U.S. destination marketers should still consider the Canadian market viable and lucrative; it may be the packaging and the message about the U.S. product that need to be retooled to fit the changing Canadian marketplace.
Tourism Industries' forecast calls for a 7 percent decline in Canadian arrivals to the U.S. and an 8 percent increase in US travel to Canada.
For more information on Tourism Industries' Canadian Statistics program or to view a summary table of arrivals, expenditures and length of stay by state for 1997, please visit our web site at http://tinet.ita.doc.gov. Monthly aggregate data on Canadian arrivals to the U.S. are found at Monthly Tourism Statistics, Arrivals to the U.S., 1998, Section 1.
U.S. resident travel to world regions, including Canada, is posted in the outbound section of Monthly Tourism Statistics as well.
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Tourism Industries, International Trade Administration U.S. Department of Commerce, Room 1860 Washington, D.C. 20230 (202) 482-0140, fax: (202) 482-2887, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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