Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/2/2015 (2061 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
While a successful vacation is measured on experiential qualities, for the providers who supply the transportation, accommodation and motivation it is, in the end, all about the numbers.
Today's questions all lead to the mathematics of travel success or failure, more than consumers' response to service.
Question: Since the launch of the new charges, we have been forced to pay for the first bag checked in for flights. Do you know if the ruse has worked financially for the airlines?
It seems to me that more and more people are finding ways to pack all their belongings into carry-on suitcases.
Answer: While there may be some who are able to do that, the numbers indicate the opposite.
Westjet, the first Canadian carrier to introduce this new revenue stream, have actually come out and said so.
They anticipated that large numbers of travellers would find a way to eliminate much of what they took in the past, just to save those dollars.
Sadly, their comments suggest that travellers have resigned themselves to accepting these new charges over which they have no control. Whenever one carrier introduces a new ancillary fee, the others are almost certain to follow fairly soon after.
In fact, Westjet has increased its forecast for fee revenues to $100 million, up 11 per cent from their original projections.
Based largely on the new monies from first checked bags, not only did Air Canada's revenue per passenger grow by 18 per cent in the last quarter, but Air Canada's CEO Calin Rovinescu has signalled even more surprises ahead with his statement, "We'll use whatever tools we have at our disposal to drive profitability".
This sense of consumer helplessness may be frustrating, but it is bringing in the best days of airline profitability over many years. There was a time when buying shares in an airline was akin to throwing money down the drain. Not so now, as ever increasing profits are announced while the best months of summer travel are still ahead.
Airlines argue we are still behind the United States in extra charges per passenger. With that, we can safely assume they have new revenue producing ideas or price hikes to impement in the future.
Question: We have just returned from a month in Florida. While it seemed to me the majority of tourists were Canadian, I was shocked by the number of foreign languages I heard being spoken. And not just in the Orlando/Disney area.
Has Florida become a major visiting state for people from all over?
Answer: Decidedly so! For the fourth consecutive year, Florida has seen record numbers of visitors flood their state. Most of the visitors to Florida are from the United States. Like Canadians, many from colder northern states find it a wonderful place to escape to during the winter. Last year 97.3 million visitors chose Florida for their vacations, 11.5 million of them from overseas. Canada delivered 3.8 million tourists, a substantial number when you consider the size of our population. While the majority of Canadian visitors go for shorter vacations, when the bottom fell out of the housing market several years ago when the Canadian dollar was almost at par, Florida was one of the states that also saw substantial second-home investments from would-be Canadian snowbirds.
Question: I have had the good fortune of seeing most of this country that I love so much.
I have travelled from coast to coast and marvelled at the beauty we possess. But I don't feel my enthusiasm is properly shared with those from other countries. I thought we were seen as one of the nations people from around the world wanted to visit, yet I don't see that happening. Will our lower dollar accelerate that over the coming months and years?
Answer: While officials brag the tourism business in Canada drives almost $85 billion in economic activity and generates 615,000 jobs, the fact is we have been consistently losing ground, particularly from our rich population base south of the 49th parallel.
The United States once provided three-quarters of our international visitations. Since the year 2000, those numbers have dropped by 55 per cent.
And it is not about what level the Canadian dollar rises or drops to in any given period.
The change in thinking after 9/11 to 'See America First' may be one of the reasons. Another may be the need for a passport to enter Canada, the so-called closest friend of the United States. Real and perceived border wait times, along with a series of internal structural issues have all led to the drop in visitors.
In the meantime, as tourism marketing by other countries has expanded around the world, much of the Canadian tourism marketing dollar has been aimed at getting Canadians to see their own country.
While that worked in many ways, it did not fill our coffers with foreign currency. Or gain any converts who would carry the Canadian message back to their home countries to generate even more new visitors.
Experts say travel between countries is now the fourth fastest growing export, generating over a trillion dollars in spending outside their own countries.
Canada is just not getting its fair share at this time.
Forward your travel questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Ron Pradinuk is president of Journeys Travel & Leisure SuperCentre and can be heard Sundays at noon on CJOB. Previous columns and tips can be found on www.journeystravelgear.com or read Ron's travel blog at www.thattravelguy.ca.
A writer and a podcaster, Ron's travel column appears in the Winnipeg Free Press every Saturday in the Destinations and Diversions section.
The Winnipeg Free Press invites you to share your opinion on this story in a letter to the editor. A selection of letters to the editor are published daily.
Letters must include the writer’s full name, address, and a daytime phone number. Letters are edited for length and clarity.