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Canadian vacationers stay close to home due to terrorism, Zika virus and low dollar

Canadian vacationers stay close to home due to terrorism, Zika virus and low dollar

In light of horrific attacks in Brussels, Turkey and Paris and concerns surrounding the Zika virus, the majority of Canadians planning a summer vacation say they will be sticking close to home.

According to a survey by deal aggregator TravelZoo, 47 per cent of Canadians will vacation domestically and 36 per cent will go no further than the U.S.

“Safety is top of mind,” says Lara Barlow, TravelZoo’s country manager for Canada. “When we compared this survey to previous surveys in December – 64 per cent said they would avoid destinations that experienced a terrorist threat over the last 12 months and now we see that 78 per cent will choose their vacation destination because it feels like a safe option.”

While 34 per cent of Canadian vacationers say they would have considered Turkey, Paris and or Brussels prior to the recent attacks, they now have no intentions of travelling there.

“Who knows what the situation will continue to be in Europe in terms of the terrorist threat,” says Barlow. “It really depends on how much that situation has been brought under control by the time we get to the prime vacation season for external travel (which is) the fall period.”

The mosquito-carried Zika virus, which has increasingly beleaguered tropical countries over the past year and earned public health emergency and advisories from both the World Health Organization and the Public Health Agency of Canada, is also hampering Canadians’ travel plans.

According to TravelZoo’s survey, 22 per cent of respondents say they cancelled their plans for heading to warmer destinations because of the Zika disease, opting to travel to the U.S. (35 per cent) and within Canada (33 per cent).

“The original survey in December was before the whole Zika thing had blown up,” she says. “So nowadays safety includes both your health safety as well as the terrorist threat issue.”

The survey also found 55 per cent of those polled plan to take a vacation this summer but have yet to book it. Only 14 per cent have put their travel plans on indefinite hold as a result of unrest and terrorist acts.

Although the Canadian dollar has been on a tear as of late, climbing to $0.78 versus the greenback on Tuesday, the Loonie’s stumble this year has hindered some cross-border travel for Canadians says Barlow.

“We saw the decline in those interested in going to the U.S. down to 36 per cent versus 60 per cent in November,” she says. “In November the economy was in a bad state but it kind of continues to decline even though the dollar itself has risen slightly – people are moving towards their very local markets in terms of vacation options.”

And she expects that trend to continue.

“Over the summer I anticipated an uptick in travel in Canada because we have so many great options here and it’s great weather,” he says. “We have seen an increase in occupancy rates from Canadian hotels – but in the fall, as winter starts to come, that’s when we’ll really start to find out whether travel locally will be the option or whether people feel more comfortable going externally.”