November 28, 2006 08:00 ET

Are Canadians Swapping Their Holiday Gifts for Holiday Trips? Expedia.ca Survey Reveals One in Four Canadians Likely to Put Holiday Gift Money Towards a Family Trip This Year

And only 50 per cent of Canadians will be eligible to fly to the U.S. once new passport requirements come into effect in January 2007

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 28, 2006) -

Attention: Travel Editor, Family Editor, Lifestyle Editor, Transportation Editor

This holiday season, the latest toys, gadgets and jewellery could remain on store shelves as a surprising one in four (27 per cent) Canadians would rather choose to put their gift money towards a family trip. The new Expedia.ca ™/Ipsos-Reid survey also shows that in the past three years, almost half (44 per cent) of Canadians have left home at least once during the holidays to vacation with their family. And, with U.S. regulations planning to take effect January 23, 2007 requiring Canadians to show a passport when visiting by air, the survey shows that only half (50 per cent) of Canadians hold a valid passport; a full one-third (35 per cent) of those without a valid passport plan to apply for a passport for themselves or a family member in the near future in order to travel to the U.S.

"As the pace of the holiday season becomes increasingly frenetic, we continue to see Canadians choosing to leave the traditional family hearth to take a trip to enjoy the holiday break," says Sean Shannon, Managing Director of Expedia.ca. "One of the best ways to reconnect with family members is to celebrate the holidays by booking a trip away from home this festive season."

Canadians give the gift of R&R to their families this holiday season

Twenty seven per cent of Canadians say they would rather put their holiday cash towards a visit to a sunny or snowy destination instead of staying home for the holidays. In addition to the 44 per cent of Canadians who have taken at least one holiday trip in the past three years, eleven per cent of Canadians have never taken a family vacation over the holidays but would like to do so in the future. Also, 32 per cent of men would forego their holiday gifts for time away, compared to 23 per cent of women.

Seventeen per cent of all Canadians are planning to apply for a passport

As of January 23, 2007, Canadians travelling by air to the U.S. will require a valid passport to gain entry into the country. Although 35 per cent of Canadians without a valid passport plan to apply for one in the near future, the intent to apply decreases with age. Among Canadians who do not currently own a valid passport, 45 per cent of those aged 55 and over do not plan to apply for a passport at all, despite the new bill, compared to 33 per cent of those Canadians aged 35 to 55 who do not currently own a valid passport.(i)

"Canadians need to understand how the U.S. passport regulations will affect their holiday travel plans," comments Shannon. "At Expedia.ca, we are informing our customers of the new requirements and are recommending they apply for a passport now to ensure enough time to receive a passport before the deadline."

Passport 101

Canadians looking to apply for a passport should keep the following in mind:

-- Wait times depend on the type of delivery service chosen

- Mail - approximately four weeks for delivery

- Receiving agent - approximately three weeks

- In-person - approximately two weeks for delivery

- Express service - two - nine days from receipt of application, $30 plus the processing fee

- 24-hour - emergency applications, if proven, cost $70 plus the processing fee

Other passport tips include:

-- The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs recommends carrying a passport valid for at least six months beyond the expected return date.

-- Children, including newborns, can no longer be listed on a parent's passport and must have their own Canadian passport.

-- Pick up a Canadian passport application at a Canadian post office outlet, Service Canada Centre, Canadian passport office or online at www.passportcanada.gc.ca.

-- If you miss the deadline, try departing from a U.S. border airport. Although a passport is required for travel in to the U.S. by air for 2007, Canadians can still gain entry to the U.S. by car without apassport. Canadians can fly from a border city like Seattle, Buffalo and Burlington - and often save money doing it! Check www.expedia.ca for great deals on flights from U.S. border cities.

Where are Canadians going this winter?

According to the survey, 60 per cent of Canadians plan to vacation this December holiday season or over New Year's:

-- Eleven per cent of Canadians are planning to travel within the U.S. this holiday season

-- Ten per cent are looking to catch some rays this holiday season as they plan to travel to a southern destination other than the United States

-- Fifteen per cent of Canadians are looking to travel beyond North America to another part of the world

-- Twenty-three per cent are looking to vacation within Canada this holiday season - 12 per cent within their own province and 11 per cent travelling to another province

Internet booking on the rise

Canadians are increasingly turning to the internet to book their travel arrangements. Almost half (45 per cent) of Canadians have booked or paid for travel arrangements through the Internet, compared to 38 per cent in 2005.

Head away for the Holidays with Expedia.ca this Holiday Season

-- Home for the Holidays sale: With all the hustle and bustle of the season it's easy to forget about your own comfort. Remember Aunt Edie's lumpy couch last year? Ouch! Book a hotel on Expedia.ca and pass your holiday season in comfort - without stretching the budget. Canada offers up some of the best winter entertainment around - skiing outside Vancouver, the Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara, theatre in Toronto or shopping in Montreal - there's enough to keep you busy all winter long. Book before December 1 and save up to 25 per cent off already-low hotel rates with Expedia.ca!

-- Seek out the Sun sale: Why shovel snow when you could be swinging a club on the green or relaxing poolside with a refreshing beverage? Expedia.ca is offering up to 25 per cent in terrific savings if you book before December 15 on hotels in Los Angeles, Orange County, Las Vegas, New Orleans and many more - just in time for winter!

Visit www.expedia.ca for more great holiday travel deals!

About the Survey

These are the findings of an Ipsos Reid/expedia.ca poll conducted from November 7th to November 9th, 2006. For the survey, a representative randomly selected sample of 1001 adult Canadians was interviewed by telephone. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult Canadian population been polled. The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population. These data were weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age/sex composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to Census data.

About Expedia.ca

Expedia Canada Corp., a subsidiary of Expedia, Inc., operates Canada's most visited full-service online travel service, Expedia.ca. To help Canadians plan and purchase travel, Expedia.ca provides the best combination of scheduled and charter flights, car and hotel reservations, vacation packages, destination activities, trip insurance and mapping information. Expedia.ca customers are supported by customer support agents available 24 hours a day, seven days a week via a toll-free number and email response.

Expedia.ca, Expedia and the Airplane logo are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Expedia, Inc. in Canada and/or other countries. Other logos or product and company names mentioned herein may be the property of their respective owners.

(c) 2006 Expedia, Inc. All rights reserved.

(i) When originally asked regarding their passport status, respondents were told the date that the proposed passport regulations would take effect at the time - January 8, 2007.

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