BMO Bank of Montreal

BMO Bank of Montreal

March 12, 2012 11:00 ET

REPEAT-More Canadians Planning to Travel Outside of Canada this Year: BMO

January through March is typically the busiest period for out-of-country travel

- Trips out of country increased 5.9 per cent last year

- Spending by Canadians abroad grew 11.24 per cent

- Top U.S. Destinations include New York, Florida, Washington

- Domestic travel expected to increase modest 1.8 per cent in 2012

- BMO offers tips on foreign exchange and payment options for travellers

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 12, 2012) - More Canadians are planning to travel this year than in 2011 and the majority of trips will be out of country, according to a recent study by BMO Bank of Montreal. March is typically one of the busiest travel months of the year as families and students take advantage of Canada's annual March break to escape the winter doldrums.

"Over the last two years, the strong Canadian dollar and relatively favourable income growth have made vacation travel outside of Canada much more attractive," said Sal Guatieri, Senior Economist, BMO Capital Markets. "We expect these conditions to similarly influence Canadians' travel plans in 2012."

During the third quarter (July 1-September 30) of 2011, spending by Canadians travelling abroad grew 11.24 per cent to $7.3 billion compared to the same quarter in 2010. Of that, Canadian residents spent $4 billion in the United States, up 18 per cent from the third quarter of 2010. During the same period, the number of trips to other countries (excluding the U.S.) increased by 3.3 per cent, while trips to the United States increased by 6.7 per cent.

Domestic travel is expected to increase by a more modest 1.8 per cent in 2012 and generate 97.6 million overnight stays at hotels, inns and bed & breakfast facilities. Tourism spending in Canada is expected to rise by 3.6 per cent to $40.5 billion this year.

"The United States remains the top travel destination outside Canada, with New York, Florida and Washington being the most visited states," said Su McVey, Vice President, BMO Bank of Montreal. "Our customers have the advantage of being able to make withdrawals at any BMO Harris or M&I ATM in the U.S. for no fee."

Mexico, the United Kingdom, and France are countries of choice for Canadians travelling to destinations outside of Canada and the United States. The top three travel destinations within Canada are Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.

The increase in out-of-country travel contributed to an international travel deficit of $15.9 billion for Canada in 2011, an increase of $1.6 billion from 2010. Tourism-related activity accounted for 1.8 per cent of Canada's GDP in the third quarter of 2011, but with travel within Canada likely to be restrained through 2012, Canada's travel industries - such as domestic travel services, accommodation, food and entertainment - will be challenged to find innovative ways to keep their operating costs under control.

Overnight travel from Canada by trip purpose
Q3 2010 Q3 2011 Q3 2010
to Q3
Q3 2010 Q3 2011 Q3 2010
to Q3
Trips Spending
thousands % change $ millions of dollars % change
Canadian trips abroad 8426 8919 5.9% 6565 7303 11.24%
To the United States 6,419 6,847 6.7% 3,391 4,000 18.0%
Business 478 547 14.4% 432 508 17.7%
Pleasure 4,283 4,589 7.1% 2,303 2,662 15.6%
Visiting friends/ relatives 1,084 1,001 -7.7% 378 431 14.0%
To other countries 2,007 2,072 3.3% 3,174 3,303 4.1%
Business 173 181 4.5% 388 403 3.8%
Pleasure 1,208 1,246 3.1% 1,838 1,940 5.6%
Visiting friends/ relatives 497 512 3.1% 714 724 1.5%

Statistics Canada 2012-02-27

Tourism Indicators for travel to and within Canada -- visits and spending
Overnight visits -- 000s 2010 2011e % change 2012f % change
Canada 113,219 113,765 0.5% 115,519 1.5%
NFL / Labrador 1,610 1,632 1.4% 1,647 0.9%
PEI 707 695 -1.8% 702 1.1%
NB 2,955 2,960 0.2% 2,990 1.0%
Nova Scotia 3,402 3,368 -1.0% 3,406 1.1%
Quebec 26,800 26,995 0.7% 27,260 1.0%
Ontario 42,549 42,686 0.3% 43,256 1.3%
Manitoba 3,389 3,430 1.2% 3,492 1.8%
Saskatchewan 4,471 4,576 2.3% 4,709 2.9%
Alberta 11,365 11,524 1.4% 11,871 3.0%
BC 15,614 15,546 -0.4% 15,831 1.8%
Canada - Total spending $37.1 billion $39.1 billion 5.4% $40.5 billion 3.6%
f = forecast; e = estimate / The Conference Board of Canada; Statistics Canada - Autumn 2011

To ensure Canadians have the payment security and convenience they want when they travel out of country, BMO offers the following tips and advice:

Credit Cards

  • Credit cards remain the most popular way to pay among Canadian travellers. In addition to world-wide merchant acceptance, many credit cards offer loyalty rewards, insurance against loss or theft of purchased product, extended warranties and zero liability in cases of fraud. Some cards, such as the BMO World Elite MasterCard, also include travel medical coverage, trip cancellation/delay insurance, and collision damage waivers, which can add up to substantial savings for travellers.

Debit cards

  • Some bank plans with unlimited transactions allow for domestic and international debit card transactions at no additional cost, so check your banking plan. For a low monthly fee, BMO's Performance Plan allows unlimited transactions internationally over the Maestro network, as well as withdrawals from BMO Harris and M&I ATMs in the United States.

Foreign exchange notes (cash)

  • Have a small amount of local currency on hand so that you can pay for incidentals such as the cab ride from the airport and tips. But don't take too much; it isn't safe to carry large amounts of cash, and if it is lost or stolen, it is gone.

Travellers cheques

  • While not as widely used as they used to be, many Canadians still like the security and convenience of travellers cheques when they travel abroad. If the travellers cheques are lost or stolen, they are promptly refunded, often within 24 hours through a local representative office or by calling the issuer's hotline. For anything other than U.S. dollars, order your travellers cheques and/or your foreign currency notes two-to-three days in advance of your trip.

BMO recommends a mix: It's a good idea to have some of the local currency on hand, and to take both your debit card and a credit card with you when you travel so that you have a fall back, should there be a problem with one or the other.

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