It’s hard to believe September is already upon us, with the languid pace of the summer now a distant memory. For Canada’s hotel industry, the summer period was a good one, with many hotels reporting solid occupancies, and more importantly, higher rates.
As Michael Haywood states in this month’s Hospitality Market Report, the stars have aligned and everything has fallen into place. Driving increased visits to the country are a glowing reputation for the Canada brand, favourable exchange rates and our country’s natural beauty — not to mention our friendliness and perceived safety (see HMR story on p. 8).
From a legislative point of view, the government’s announcement earlier this summer that it would be eliminating visa requirements for Mexican citizens travelling to Canada, also bodes well for increased visits from that country. With Mexico being one of Canada’s top inbound travel markets, this should fuel more travel from the country. In fact, despite the implementationof visa requirements in 2009, Mexican inbound travel to Canada continues to grow. In 2014, 173,000 Mexican citizens came to Canada, an
increase of 14 per cent over 2013. There were 21,469 visits from Mexican travellers in March 2016 — an increase of 54 per cent from the same month last year. “These numbers are expected to grow incrementally with the changes to visas and the introduction of new direct and daily air service to Canada” says Tony Pollard, president of the Hotel Association of Canada.
While Canadian travel stats are strong, internationally much of the same holds true. According to a recently released study from the United Nations World Tourism Organization, international tourism continues to grow above average in the first four months of 2016.
The year started on a strong note, with arrivals growing by five per cent between January and April 2016, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Results were robust across almost all sub-regions and many destinations reported double-digit growth. Though the report does not measure the summer period, prospects for May to August were expected to be positive — approximately 500 million tourists were expected to travel abroad in the Northern Hemisphere during the summer holiday peak season.
Still, concern over the tragic events in Nice, France as well as in other European destinations underlines the importance that safety and security play in the travel equation. But, as UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai says “…The results show a strong desire to travel and this continues to drive tourism growth. Destinations keep benefitting from solid demand across all world regions despite ongoing challenges, showing that tourism is a dynamic and resilient economic sector.”