Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/10/2010 (4072 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
We shouldn't have to wait for a designated weekend to give thanks for the many blessings that have been bestowed upon us in one way or another.
The readers of this column can certainly be thankful each and every day for the fact we have an interest in what is happening in faraway places and, in most cases, can actually make plans to visit the places we read about in this section.
But it is nice to be able to bring our families together to join hands and look back on a year that has, even with economic challenges worldwide, allowed us to celebrate the freedom and relative prosperity this country offers.
I thank you, my readers, for the questions you forward to me, for the constant feedback I receive on the information I try to provide, and for the opportunity to continue passing on to others the joy I gain from every trip I am lucky enough to take.
I wish each and every one of you a happy Thanksgiving Day.
QUESTION: I don't have a sense yet about how safe it is to go to Thailand. It is a country I have always wanted to visit, but after the troubles there a few months ago, I don't know if it is the time to go. What are your thoughts?
ANSWER: There are several points of reference for answering that question.
Overall, visits to Thailand have not only come back after the demonstrations that occurred earlier this year, but in fact are ahead of last year by almost 14 per cent, which is a lot, considering the drop-off during the weeks the demonstrators effectively closed off the downtown section.
Much of this may be due to the fact that in addition to the country's reputation as one of the best values for a vacation in the world, several properties were able to lure visitors back with even greater bargains.
Canadians, however, have not been as quick to regain their enthusiasm for going back. Tour operators cancelled a number of packages because of Canadians' concerns that they might be caught in the middle of renewed demonstrations.
The growth that has taken place is as a result of Asian visitors who not only know a bargain when they see one, but feel they are close enough to their home base to get back quickly should signs of conflict gain a foothold.
But we too are starting to take up some of the super value offers being promoted. Some analysts suggest the elections slated for November will be the turning point. If the factions that led previous assaults, which so negatively affected tourism, win, it may take longer for a complete recovery from North America.
I always try to remind people that most of the demonstrations took place in Bangkok, and while not impervious to what was going on, the rest of the country remained relatively tranquil through the worst of the riots and demonstrations.
People I know, who were there at the time visiting other parts of the country, would not have known there were problems but for English-language news broadcasts.
I don't know if I will have the opportunity to go back to Thailand before Christmas, but after the elections, if I can, I will go there at my earliest opportunity.
There are many fascinating countries in the world to visit. This one is near the top of the list.
QUESTION: After the United States government announced that all citizens would require a passport to re-enter their own country, visits to Canada dropped off dramatically. Can you see any change in this over the next few years?
ANSWER: The change is already taking place, but it is agonizingly slow.
Statistics Canada has reported that U.S. overnight visits to Canada for July were up from June by almost three per cent. These facts may not be a big reason to celebrate, as our summers are traditionally very strong, but it is a good sign that perhaps better things are on the horizon for Canadian tourism.
Canadians have always been the ones who, because we travel to so many different countries, have owned passports in greater comparative numbers.
Americans loved coming to Canada, even if it was for same-day or one- or two-night visits. The passport requirements really curtailed those visits as the investment in a passport for a family of four, for example, did not seem worth it to many.
I don't have statistics, but I do have a feeling that this is changing and our southern neighbours will soon once again take the necessary steps to make our attractions a prime destination.
They have always seen Canada as friendly, particularly to Americans, in comparison to other destinations that have not been as welcoming. For a variety of reasons, the world's most powerful country is frequently viewed with some jaundice.
At the same time, Canadians continue to be much more amenable to travelling to the United States to holiday. We went south in droves. A full 3.8 million of us found our way over the border in July alone.
And though more Americans came here, other nationals who have always required and often owned passports chose to come to Canada in fewer numbers.
A tourism conference in November will address these issues and try to establish what the new norm for Canadian tourism is.
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.