GOING NOWHERE More Canadians likely to holiday at home in 2016

Posted on 12/30/2015 | About Canada

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 percent this year, overnight travel within Canada is expected to grow by another 2.4 percent in 2016. 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, Quebec City. Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver will all attract more visitors in 2016.

Travel prices in Canada are forecast to increase going forward. Overall, travel prices are anticipated to rise by 2.4 percent next year. In particular, travelers will pay 2.8 percent more for accommodations, 2.6 percent more for transportation and 2.5 percent more for food and beverage services. Of the nine Canadian cities cited in the report, most can count on tourism growth of two to three percent next year. Vancouver will be the standout with overnight visits expected to increase by 3.4 percent in 2016. With the weak Canadian dollar and low gasoline prices, American visits to Toronto are set to rise by 7.2 percent this year and continue to increase by 3.2 percent in 2016. In addition, thanks to convention activity and the hosting of major sports 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. The US Sunbelt is expected to feel a chill this winter from Canada's weak economy and a loonie that's lost more than a quarter of its value in recent months. Overnight cross-border travel was down about nine percent in the first nine months of 2015 over the same period last year, but more Canadians are likely thinking twice about forays to top destinations in Florida, Arizona, California and Texas this winter, given the Canadian dollar is expected to drop even further.

The TD Bank predicts the Canadian dollar will fall to about 71 cents US before recovering somewhat to 80 cents in the next couple of years. Florida is among the top US destinations for international travellers, including one in five Canadians who cross the border. But for the first time in several years, travel from Canada to the Sunshine State is dipping. More than 700,000 Canadians own second homes in Florida. After peaking in 2010, Canadians purchased $11.2 billion worth of properties in the US in the 12 months up to March 2015. They were replaced by the Chinese as the top international buyers, with Florida, California, Texas and Arizona accounting for half of all sales.