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Close to HomeJune 3, 2009 By: Michael Browne Travel Agent
Visitors rest as they soak up spectacular views of the Canadian Rockies
From rugged outdoor adventure in the Canadian Rockies to the history and culture of Quebec to the nonstop festivities of Edmonton, Canada has plenty to offer U.S. travelers looking for value vacations this summer. Travel agents can sell both the value proposition and the geographical proximity to their clients, making the Great White North an attractive option.
That proximity may be a bigger selling point than many agents realize. “The psychological implications of a vacation closer to home [are] appealing,” says Max Johnson, president, The Great Canadian Travel Co. Ltd. , “and Canada seems to be offering those with a penchant for a ‘different’ holiday a short-haul option. It is an easy place to be; we speak English [mostly], brands are similar, there are no security issues and the public is generally welcoming to Americans.”
And value is certainly a powerful draw these days. As Tom Armstrong, spokesman for Tauck World Tours, points out, “Canada has traditionally offered really strong value, in part because there aren’t the exchange-rate issues you face with other currencies like the euro or the pound.” Also, he adds, “Airfares are less expensive, with a roundtrip flight from New York to Calgary about $200 less than flights from New York to London, Rome or Paris. Travelers can also get a nice European flavor by visiting places in Eastern Canada like Quebec City, driveable from anywhere in the Boston-New York corridor.”
This year the value in travel to Canada is even stronger, Armstrong notes, because of the number and variety of promotions and pricing considerations available. Tauck, for instance, is offering travelers “Partners’ Savings” on selected tours in the Canadian Rockies throughout the year. The operator has leveraged its negotiating power with hotels in the region, and is passing on those considerable savings to travelers.
A total of five Tauck land tours in the Canadian Rockies are included in the company’s Partners’ Savings program: “Grand Canadian Rockies,” with savings of $290 per person; “Canadian Rockies & Glacier National Park,” with savings of $210 per person; “Canadian Rockies & British Columbia,” with savings of $220 per person; “Wonders Of The Canadian Rockies” (Tauck Bridges), with savings of $180 per person; and “Best Of The Canadian Rockies,” offering savings of $160 per person.
Of course, “value” is in the eye of the beholder, notes Great Canadian’s Johnson. “I think the concept of value is a really interesting issue,” he says. “While there is a requirement from travelers to feel that they are getting value, we are seeing more concern with price point—travelers who might have spent $25,000 on a European trip are ‘downgrading’ to a $15,000 Canadian program. Is that value or price point?
The guards at the Citadel military garrison above Quebec City
“Value, in this case, [is] in the mind of the purchaser. It is true to say, however, that a client with $7,500 to spend can get a ‘bigger’ trip in Canada than a comparable European experience. Canada certainly offers good value,” he adds, “although in this epoch of wildly volatile exchange rates, this could change tomorrow.”
Yet for all the discussion about the value of a Canadian vacation, there is no disputing that “Canada offers wide cultural diversity and spectacular wildlife viewing,” says Johnson, “as well as great music and local life—and for those stuck in a major metropolis, some wide open spaces to explore, with bears of every color, mountain horseback trails and above all, the feeling that one has gone away!”