Weather won't hurt travel in Canada

Weather won’t hurt travel in Canada

“Everyone in the travel business is feeling fairly optimistic about the summer season,” says Debra Ward of the Travel Industry Association of Canada in Ottawa. “If the weather holds off on weekends, you’re going to see lots of getaway travel.”

The long-term forecast for Canada east of the Rockies this summer is cooler and wetter than average, but better than last year. And even last year, which was considered to be a washout because of so many damp weekends, wasn’t much different in terms of tourism than 1991, Ward says. The weather got better after a wet June and July and business picked up at resorts in August.

Tourist numbers could be up by at least 5 per cent this year as Canadians stick closer to home. Statistics collected by the Conference Board of Canada show that nearly two thirds of Canadians planning summer vacations this year will holiday in Canada.

The reasons for staying in Canada are financial as well as patriotic, suggests Ward. Cross-border shopping trips seem to be fading as an attraction because prices on many items are becoming more competitively priced in Canada.

The place to go for sunshine should be British Columbia, which is expected to be drier than usual. Elsewhere, camping and fishing might be less fun if it rains, but most outdoor events have scheduled indoor alternatives for bad weather. And weather is not a major factor for seeing the sights of cities and summer is the time when hotels are offering bargains.

More Canadians tend to hold off until the last minute to plan their vacation trips, but they still want to get away. Even when weekends are gloomy, it actually has a surprisingly small effect on things like weekend car rentals and occupancy at resorts.

“People still want to get away despite the weather,” said Mark Pearce, director of marketing for Budget Rent a Car Canada. Even when the weather turns rainy, very few people cancel their reservations. This year, Budget is including a Vacation Values book with its car rentals, with coupons offering discounts at attractions across Canada.

Canadians, of course, are proud of being able to live well in a northern climate. And to take the most extreme view, maybe a cloudy summer is a blessing in disguise. With so many warnings about staying out of the sun because of extra ultra-violet rays coming through a thinned atmosphere, fewer people are planning to spend their entire vacations in the sun anyway. This summer, you can spend more time outdoors in Canada.

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