A new British Columbia Automobile Association survey shows that, after staying home for a few years, British Columbians are venturing outside of the province and travelling again with longer trips being the trend for the year.
According to the BCAA survey on travel trends conducted by Insights West, British Columbians who typically travel outside of B.C. have been staying home due to issues with disposable income and a weak Canadian dollar. Now, with the dollar slightly improved and an effort being made by British Columbians to afford travel, suitcases are coming back out.
"British Columbians are big travellers at heart," says Brooke Moss, Director of BCAA Marketing. Moss, responsible for areas such as BCAA travel insurance, has seen a lot of travel trends in her 22 years with the company. She says the dollar is a critical factor in travel plans and when the Canadian dollar gets too soft, travellers get skittish.
In fact, the survey shows that three-in-five of out-of-province travellers have already taken a trip in the past four months and 35 per cent have a trip already booked this year. And more travel plans are in store for the next year with 35 per cent already having booked a trip and 57 per cent likely to take a trip within the next year. Only 9% of those surveyed say they will not be travelling this year.
When it comes to destinations, British Columbians are pretty much spread out. For those who have already restarted travelling, nearly half the trips were taken to the US (46%) while more than a third took trips (35%) within Canada. Nineteen per cent of trips were taken outside of North America. Recent trips taken were long in duration with 64 per cent lasting for four overnight stays or longer.
For those who have trips already booked or are planning to take trips within the year, two in five of these trips (39%) involve the US, 35 per cent are going to travel outside of North America and 25 per cent will be within Canada. Travelling for longer periods of time continues as the trend with 80 per cent of trips booked or being planned to last four overnight stays or longer.
BCAA shows that interest in single trip policies has picked up over the past few months. "While British Columbians may only be making travel plans one trip at a time, the increase shows they're travelling nonetheless," Moss says.
If there was concern that the American election backlash would negatively affect B.C. to US travel, Moss says if that's happening, BCAA isn't seeing it with insurance sales remaining unaffected since the US election.
Results of the survey show a few reasons for the travel resurgence. Half say "life is too short not to" and 30 per cent of have found other ways to afford their trips such as: getting better at setting money aside (60%), cutting back spending at home on enjoyments such as nights out, coffee and clothes (42%), travelling to less expensive destinations (40%) and spending less on expenses during a trip such as meals or accommodations. One in five (20%) say they've simply gotten used to the value of the dollar.
As far as the impact of our dollar, the survey shows British Columbians do have thresholds with close to half (48%) saying they would travel more if the Canadian dollar, compared to U.S. currency hit 91 cents while 60 per cent of British Columbians said they would stop travelling for a while if the dollar slipped below 60 cents.
"Life is indeed short," says Moss. "And we are not only pleased to see people – not only enjoying the world again – but ensuring they are protected when they do."