OK. So you don’t need a calendar to tell you it’s time to head south.
Well, if that’s what you’re planning—be assured that you’re going have plenty of company if 2019 travel patterns to date are any guide.
Though some of Canada’s TV networks were questioning the dearth of snowbird migrations just a few months ago, the truth is that southbound leisure travel—by all age groups, including snowbirds—is healthy and growing.
According to the Conference Board of Canada (CBoC), which tracks inbound and outbound migrations using data from Statistics Canada and its own predictive models, during the first eight months of 2019 Canadians made 14.2 million overnight trips to the US (that means at least one overnight stay—but doesn’t count day trips), 2 per cent more than the comparable period of 2018. And though auto trips during that period declined by an estimated 1 per cent, travel by other modes grew by 5.9 per cent.
Where were most of travellers heading? Florida, California, Texas, Nevada (that’s spelled Las Vegas) and Hawaii. And that’s despite the slightly lower value of the loonie (averaging 25 cents in 2019 compared to 26 cents in 2018).
To put this in broader perspective, Canadians made 17.9 million outbound trips to all destinations between January through August 2019 (5.6 per cent more to Europe; 3.9 per cent more to the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America; and approximately the same number in 2019 as 2018 to Asia, Oceania, and the South Pacific—around 2.3 million).
The total number of outbound trips for the first eight-month period is higher in 2019 than at any time since 2015, and the numbers travelling to the US from January through August are the highest ever—somewhat paradoxical considering the so-called “Trump effect.”
Digging down into these figures we see that while travel to Cuba has slumped since 2017, it has remained virtually static from 2018 through 2019—only a 0.3 per cent increase in 2019 over 2018 for the comparable eight-month periods. In the meantime, travel to Mexico from Canada continues to soar despite the horrendous headlines generated by drug cartel violence, peaking at 1.6 million trips in the first eight months of 2019—12.6 per cent more than the previous year.
And this surge continues despite the fact that Canada’s Global Affairs travel advisory serviced has raised “Avoid All Travel” warnings for five of Mexico’s 31 states and “Avoid Non-essential Travel” warnings for all or parts of an additional seven states. That includes “Avoid All Travel” warnings for much of the Pacific coast including the state of Guerrero, which encompasses Acapulco.
Yet according to the CBoC, 6,155 Canadians vacationed in Acapulco during the first eight months of 2019—18.8 per cent more than the previous year. This is a high-stakes game as Canada’s government has warned that travel insurance benefits may be severely limited or voided for Canadians entering areas for which it has raised “Avoid All Travel” or “Avoid Non-essential Travel” warnings.
Such warnings for Mexico have been raised not only by Canada, but by the US State Department, the Foreign and Colonial Office in the UK, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and many other governments worldwide.
There are many dangers and “hot spots” throughout the world that need to be avoided or in which strict precautions must be practised. Just this year we have seen violent, sometimes lethal demonstrations, protests, even riots, in locations as far apart as Spain, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia, France, and the UK.
Consequently, we emphasize that before travelling anywhere, for business or pleasure, Canadians consider registering with the government’s “Canadians Abroad” program which offers them assistance, advice, and maintains contacts with them and their families should they cross over into dangerous territory. Registration is free and easy: go to this website to register.
A similar safe travel registration program is available for Americans. Go to this website for more details.
Also, before travelling internationally, check out your travel insurance policy’s conditions for limitations on benefits if you do cross over into an area the federal government has raised an “Avoid All Travel,” “Avoid Non-essential Travel,” or “Reconsider Travel” warning. You will find the details in the Exclusions and possibly in the Benefits section of your policy. If you can’t find the section, ask your travel insurance advisor.
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