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60% of Canadians to travel over holidays; to spend an average of $563: BMO

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TORONTO - It looks like Santa won't be the only one on the move this holiday season.

The Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO) says a strong loonie and a relatively stable economy is fuelling a desire by many Canadians to get away over the Christmas-New Year's period.

According to the bank's 2012 Holiday Travel Outlook released Thursday, some 60 per cent of Canadians plan to travel over the holidays, spending an average of $563 apiece on their trips.

The survey found that while some 39 per cent planned to travel within their home province, almost one in five, or 19 per cent, were looking to go abroad.

The most popular destination outside of Canada as the United States, with 13 per cent of Canadians heading south of the border.

Some three per cent chose Mexico as their preferred destination while eight per cent collectively chose other destinations and 12 per cent said they would be going to other provinces besides their own.

Meanwhile, the survey found that those in Atlantic Canada were the most likely to travel over the holidays (80 per cent), while those in Quebec were the least likely (41 per cent).

Travellers will be younger, with almost three-quarters or 74 per cent of Canadians under 30 planning to travel compared with 42 per cent of those 65 and over.

To help fund travel plans, the report found that Canadians' use of reward points is on the rise. Two out of 10 Canadians (21 per cent) planned to travel on reward points this year, up seven per cent over last year.

"Affordability remains an important factor when deciding on an appropriate vacation destination and reward programs provide a practical and convenient way for more Canadians to take advantage of a broad array of redemption options and upgrade their vacation experience without breaking the budget," said Nick Mastromarco, director, BMO Bank of Montreal.

BMO said the results were from an online survey conducted by Pollara between Oct. 11 and Oct. 16 with a random sample of 1,000 Canadians 18 years of age and over.

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