OTTAWA — The weaker loonie and lower gas prices convinced Canadians to vacation closer to home this year and this trend is expected to continue in 2016, according to a new report from the Conference Board of Canada.
Following an increase of 2.8% this year, overnight travel within Canada is expected to grow by another 2.4% in 2016, according to The Conference Board of Canada’s latest Travel Markets Outlook for both national and metropolitan cities.
The pace of Canada’s tourism growth in 2016 is expected to be dampened by higher travel prices and financial concerns among consumers and businesses.
Halifax, Québec City, Montréal, Ottawa-Gatineau, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver will all attract more visitors in 2016.
“The weaker Canadian dollar has helped make Canadian travel destinations more price competitive for both Canadians and those travellers from abroad, particularly Americans. At the same time, lower gas prices are reducing the costs of road trips,” said Greg Hermus, Associate Director for The Conference Board of Canada’s Canadian Tourism Research Institute.
Travel prices in Canada are forecasted to increase going forward. Overall, travel prices are anticipated to rise by 2.4% next year. In particular, travellers will pay 2.8% more for accommodations, 2.6% more for transportation and 2.5% more for food and beverage services.
Of the nine Canadian cities covered in the Travel Markets Outlook’s Metropolitan Focus, most can count on tourism growth of 2 – 3% next year. Vancouver will be the standout with overnight visits expect to increase by 3.4% in 2016.
Halifax: Overnight visits should grow 2.5% in 2016, in line with strengthening economic growth. Domestic travel will post an increase of 2.2% next year, supported by solid gains in business travel. Business travel to the city should get a boost with the completion of the mixed-use King’s Wharf waterfront project.
Québec City: Overnight travel to the city is expected to increase by 2.6% in 2016, thanks in part to strong gains in international visits. Most notably, overnight visits from the U.S. are projected to increase by 3.6%, while overseas arrivals are projected to increase 4.2%.
Montréal: Overnight visits to the city are projects to post a healthy 2.9% in 2016, spurred on by stronger growth in business travel and international visits.
Ottawa-Gatineau: Ottawa is set to host the Canadian men’s curling championship, which will help boost pleasure travel to the city. Overall, visits to the Nation’s Capital should increase 2.4% next year.
Toronto: With the weak Canadian dollar and low gasoline prices, U.S. visits to Toronto are set to rise by 7.2% this year and continue to increase by 3.2% in 2016. In addition, thanks to convention activity and the hosting of major sport events like next year’s NBA All-Star Game, the CFL Grey Cup and the World Cup of Hockey, overnight visits to the city should continue to post solid growth for the next few years.
Winnipeg: Overnight visits to Winnipeg are expected to grow by 2.9% in 2016. Over the medium term infrastructure projects, such as the RBC Convention Centre expansion, should help attract additional business events and out-of-town delegates.
Calgary: Economic activity in Calgary took a hit from the dramatic decline in oil prices and this weakness is a key factor behind the estimated 7.3% decline in business travel to the city this year. As the local economy improves next year, so too will the prospects for stronger tourism growth. In 2016, domestic business and pleasure travel are expected to grow by 2.4% and 1.6% respectively.
Edmonton: The decline in economic growth in Edmonton this year has taken a serious bite out of business travel. Next year, business travel should recover with a modest gain of 1.8%. The opening of the Rogers Place Arena in 2016 should also help boost overnight visitors to Edmonton.
Vancouver: Following a strong tourism year, Vancouver should see another 3.4% growth in visits in 2016, boosted from the opening of the Trump International Hotel and the World Rugby Sevens Series tournament.