HAC alarmed by cross-border air purchases

An increasing — and disturbing — number of Canadians continue to travel to the United States to purchase their airline tickets. In its 2012 Canadian Travel Intentions Survey, the Hotel Association of Canada’s (HAC) reports that 15% of Canadians surveyed said they’d travelled to the U.S. to buy cheaper airline tickets in 2011, with the bulk of those (21%) coming from Ontario and British Columbia (19%). Most (23%) were in the 35 to 44 age bracket. But perhaps more alarmingly, HAC found that a further 33% of those questioned said that they plan to cross the border to shop for cheaper airfares in 2012 and 67% of respondents said they knew people who travelled to the U.S. in 2011 to purchase cheaper airline tickets. HAC president Tony Pollard observed: “Almost half of all Canadians are now either travelling to the U.S. for deals on airline tickets or thinking about doing it in 2012 and almost 7 in 10 Canadians know people who have cross border shopped for cheaper airline tickets.” And HAC’s boss pulls no punches in pointing out the reason for the disturbing trend, saying: “This trend is the result of the mounting burden of taxes and fees imposed on the aviation sector that discourages competition and drives up costs including airport rents, Air Traveller Security charges, NAV CANADA fees and airport improvement fees. This trend amounts to millions of Canadian travellers finding the price of Canadian tickets more expensive than the cost of driving to the U.S. and flying from airports like Buffalo, Detroit, Plattsburg, Bellingham, Bangor, Seattle, Syracuse or Grand Forks.” To stop the bleeding, HAC says the travel and tourism sector needs a fair tax and regulatory regime that will allow it to compete on a level playing field with the rest of the world. And the hotel industry association is recommending that the federal government undertake a comprehensive review of the aviation cost structure in Canada. Go to http://www.hotelassociation.ca for more.

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