Mexico surpasses U.K. with Canadian tourists

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Dollar’s rise ‘creates better buying opportunity,’ agent says

Bruce Constantineau

Puerto Vallarta, a popular destination

More Canadians want to knock back margaritas in Puerto Vallarta than pints of ale in Portsmouth, according to Statistics Canada travel numbers.

Mexico surpassed the U.K. last year as the second most visited country by Canadians, with Canadian tourists making 842,000 overnight trips to the sunny Spanish-speaking destination — up six per cent from 2005.

Canadian travel to the U.K. fell 13.4 per cent last year to 778,000 overnight visits.

The U.S. remains by far the most popular travel destination for Canadians, who made about 16 million overnight trips there last year — a 7.6-per-cent increase over 2005 and the highest level since 1993.

Global Travel managing partner Scott Clute said Canadians’ growing preference for Mexico as a vacation spot makes sense from an affordability point of view.

He noted most Mexican pricing is based on U.S. dollars and the Canadian dollar has strengthened against its U.S. counterpart in the past year while remaining flat or even declining slightly against the U.K. pound.

“That just creates a better buying opportunity for Canadians,” Clute said in an interview.

Statistics Canada noted a significant decline in Canadian travel to the U.K. occurred during the third quarter last year, coinciding with a major security threat at Heathrow Airport in London.

Clute said Mexico remains an extremely attractive travel option for Vancouver tourists, with regular and charter airline service making it easy to get to a destination without having to change planes.

He noted it’s a five-hour flight from Vancouver to Mexico, compared with nine hours to London, and the time-zone changes between Vancouver and Mexico are minor.

Clute said all-inclusive travel packages to Mexico continue to attract more Canadians, especially young families looking for affordable getaways.

But he noted the increase in travel to Mexico is happening at a time when the country has suffered from negative publicity about growing crime problems.

“Travel to Acapulco has slowed because of the problems there. Cancun has also had problems but people seem to overlook that and book all-inclusives there,” Clute said.

Statistics Canada said France, Cuba and the Dominican Republic were the next most popular travel destinations for Canadians after the U.S., Mexico and the U.K.

Visits to China increased by more than 55 per cent, reflecting an increase in the number of flights between Canada and China, while visits to Italy declined by 17.7 per cent to 315,000, following a 50-per-cent gain in 2005.

– – –

OUTWARD BOUND: Canadians took an estimated 22.7 million overnight trips out of the country in 2006, spending a record $20.1 billion in the process. Here’s where we were going:

U.S.: 16 million, 7.6%

Mexico: 842,000, 6%

U.K.: 778,000, -13.4%

Others: 5.08 million, 12%

Source: Statistics Canada

© The Vancouver Sun 2007


Comments are closed.