Value for money a top factor in weighing winter vacations, survey says

Canadians are keen to get away and relax under the sun this winter holiday season, polling shows, despite inflation and cost of living concerns.

A new survey by Sunwing suggests almost half of those planning a trip to a sunny destination in the coming months say value for money is their top consideration when booking a trip, followed by the safety of the destination.

It comes amid growing concerns about the impacts of higher interest rate hikes as well as “off the charts” wage growth in the latest job numbers in Canada.

Martin Firestone, president of Travel Secure Inc. in Toronto, said he’s seeing interest in Christmas vacation bookings and winter getaways from his clients, but they are conscious of expenses.

“The bottom line is people are going to travel in spite of high interest rates and their mortgages coming up for renewal. There still is that desire to travel and that appears to be quite evident through this survey,” he told Global News.

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More than half of the respondents said they would travel with their partner and a quarter are planning a family trip, including children or parents. Twelve per cent said they will go with friends, while seven per cent are planning a solo trip under the sun.

Sunwing surveyed 1,504 Canadians via the Angus Reid Forum between Sept. 22 and 25.

The finding comes after polling by Ipsos for Global News in April suggested more than half of Canadians planned to pull back on summer vacation plans and book more “budget conscious” travel.


Click to play video: 'How will WestJet shutting down Sunwing impact your next holiday?'


How will WestJet shutting down Sunwing impact your next holiday?


But travel demand is still soaring high in Canada, recent data shows.

In July, 757,300 Canadian residents returned from overseas trips, which was a five per cent increase from the same month last year, according to a Statistics Canada report published in September.

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In addition, 867,700 foreign travellers came to Canada that month, which was an almost 40 per cent jump from the year before.

Interest in cruise vacations is sailing strong, with 24,100 cruise trips taken by Canadians in July.


Click to play video: 'Travel update for the fall season'


Travel update for the fall season


While there is appetite to get away, inflation — which rose to four per cent in August — has dampened some Canadians’ plans.

A recent CIBC poll last month found that 20 per cent of Canadians are being forced to postpone taking a vacation next year due to the high cost of living, while a survey by the National Payroll Institute released earlier in the week found that an “intensifying financial stress storm” appears to be brewing.

The survey of 1,500 working Canadians, including 81 per cent who are full-time workers, found the number who considered themselves financially stressed has jumped by 20 per cent in the past year to 37 per cent overall.

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Firestone said using different search engines, like Google Flights, can help travellers find the cheapest deals.

Canadians should also do their research on the political situation and safety of the country they are planning to visit, he said.

“The common element is sun and warmth,” Firestone said. “You want to just relax, but you also have to be wary that where you’re going is safe.”

— with a file from Global’s Sean Previl.

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