Canada Tourism foresees surge of U.S. visitors

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OTTAWA, Ontario -- Vacation travel from the U.S. to Canada is expected to surge in light of the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks, U.S.-based agents and tour operators told Canadian tourism officials during a recent high-level meeting in Chicago.

On hand were 35 executives of the travel industry from both countries, according to Patrick Gedge, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Canadian Tourism Commission here.

Canada, in fact, will displace some overseas destinations and become "an even bigger part of the business portfolio" of U.S. retail travel agents and tour operators, Gedge reported.

This conclusion was culled from observations that agents and operators made after they were asked about any "shifts they've seen in consumer habits and how they [the agents and operators] will be adopting them for their own business strategies," Gedge said.

As a result of the Chicago meeting, the CTC will appropriate about $950,000 (U.S.) in supplementary funds for short-term co-op advertising on behalf of U.S. agents and operators, he noted.

"It is critical that the CTC and its U.S. partners work very closely together in order to stimulate as much new business as possible, given the circumstances," Gedge said.

"Canada continues to be an excellent destination for Americans who want an enriched getaway, but one that is also close to home," he added.

U.S.-based applicant firms are asked to submit sample advertising proposals to Tom Karins, Chicago-based director of leisure travel for the Canadian Tourism Commission. Phone: (312) 327-4827; e-mail : [email protected].

The ads must meet the goals of the commission in stimulating visitation from specific U.S. long-haul markets along the eastern seaboard, California and interior points, Gedge said.

U.S. tour operators represented at the Chicago meeting included Yankee Holidays, Beverly, Mass.; Brennan Tours, Seattle, and United Vacations, Milwaukee.

Among retail agencies represented were Virtuoso. Seattle, a consortium; Bailey Travel, York, Pa., and Rocky Mountain Tours, Pittsburgh.

Tourist offices on hand, in addition to the CTC, included those from Toronto, Vancouver, Alberta and Quebec.

Suppliers included Air Canada and VIA Rail.

Air Canada soon will launch a series of inexpensive fly-drive vacations in cooperation with Budget, Fairmont Hotels and Holiday Inn.

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