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US TRAVEL TO CANADA INCREASING

by Stephen Roome

After more than a decade of declining American tourist visits to Canada, the US is hot on Canadian travel ... and millennial travellers aged 18 to 34 are the big 74 million demographic picking Canada as a destination of choice. This is very good news for Canadian tourist operators and attractions. This prediction comes from a research poll conducted by Resonance Consultancy. Canada beats out Mexico, 29% to 28%, as the foreign country most respondents planned to visit in the next two years.

Since 2000, US same day visits to Canada have dropped 71%, and overnight visits were down 21%. Americans have been making far fewer trips to all foreign countries since 2000 and they hit an all time low in 2011. U.S. travel jumped 10% last year and set a new year to year record. The Canadian Tourism Commission suspended marketing to the U.S. leisure market in 2012 with the belief that there was no point flogging a dead horse and that the resources were better allocated elsewhere. The Commission stated in February it would restart US campaigns this year. The Tourism Industry Association of Canada is also marketing the Connecting America plan in an effort to return U.S. visitation numbers to the record levels of 2002. Our new low dollar is obviously a major factor attracting US tourists.

Millennial families represent 11 million households with kids. In contrast to European visitors who cherish Canada’s natural beauty and environment above all else, what appeals to US millennial travellers is that Canada is a safe destination with fun activities and attractions. While tourism properties will welcome the Americans’ return, they need to be mindful that marketing to millennial tourists is very different from marketing to baby boomers - because millennial tourists want experiences and don't care as much about luxury trappings.

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