Wednesday,  July 15, 2020  1:37 pm

Discover America Canada: travel partners talk updates, trends and more

Discover America Canada: travel partners talk updates, trends and more
U.S. travel partners at this year’s Discover America Canada Media Day 2019.
Blake Wolfe

Blake Wolfe is an award-winning journalist and editor, who joined PAX after nearly 10 years in Canada’s newspaper industry. In addition to PAX, his work has been featured in publications such as the Metroland Media group of newspapers and the Toronto Sun.

While Canada remains the number one inbound market for most U.S. states ­– with Canadians accounting for 26.9 per cent of U.S. visitors in 2018 ­­– there’s still work to be done to increase visitation beyond its 2013 peak, according to Scott Johnson, president and CEO of Travel Marketing Insights (TMI).

Johnson’s presentation was part of Discover America Canada’s 2019 Media Day, during which several U.S. tourism representatives – including tourism boards, attractions and more – met with Canadian travel media during the event, showcasing their latest travel offerings.

According to Johnson, Canadian arrivals climbed 4.9 per cent to 21.5 million in 2018, representing an additional 1.3 million visitors year-over-year and making the Canadian market 455 per cent larger than the U.K., the U.S.’ top overseas market. In addition, 69 per cent of Canadians travelling to the U.S. in 2018 said they intend to return in 2019 and beyond.

“China is not growing as expected,” Johnson said. “It’s the older markets like Canada that are growing.”

Still, with 2013 recording 23.4 Canadians visiting the U.S., Johnson said the market is still on the rebound and that travel partners need to focus on a few key areas; according to Johnson, a TMI survey found that cost remains the top factor at 50 per cent amongst Canadians deciding against U.S. travel, followed by politics at 30 per cent (Johnson noted that 42 per cent of respondents indicated concerns of being harassed while crossing the border) and the current U.S.-Canada exchange rate at 29 per cent.

While cost and currency fluctuations can’t be controlled, Johnson implored stakeholders and policymakers to address travellers’ perceptions about the current political climate.

 Scott Johnson, president and CEO of Travel Marketing Insights (TMI)

The influence of Generation Alpha

Also presenting at the event was Raina Williams, head of Canada – East for Expedia Media Solutions, who shared some insights into the influence of Generation Alpha: children born in 2010 and after who are already affecting their families’ travel decisions.

According to Williams, families with young children are generally taking more than three leisure trips per year, with location and family needs the top two considerations at 41 per cent and 39 per cent respectively as determined by a global survey of families. With North American families opting for kid-friendly destinations with activities for all ages, it’s perhaps no surprise that 74 per cent of families surveyed are travelling to theme parks, with 67 per cent choosing water activities.

Williams said that with 90 per cent of surveyed families saying that plan their trips together is a fun activity and 60 per cent stating that trip ideas came from both parents and children (often inspired by information and promotional imagery, she added), 94 per cent of parents are the ones ultimately deciding on family vacations.

“The kids may influence, but the parents make the final decision,” Williams said.

Raina Williams, head of Canada – East for Expedia Media Solutions

What’s new for 2019 and beyond?

PAX sat down with 14 travel partners at this year’s Discover America Canada Media Day. Here’s that they had to share:

Visit Massachusetts: with a nod to the state’s long maritime history, Massachusetts recently established a ‘Whale Trail,’ featuring nearly 40 stops with whale-watching tours, museums and historic sites, such as those that provided inspiration for Moby Dick.

Vermont Tourism & Marketing: while craft beer is alive and well across the U.S., Vermont’s craft cider and craft spirit scenes are also heating up. With lots of Canadian visitors (particularly the drive market from Quebec, many of Vermont’s downtowns offer Canadian discount days.

Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors’ Bureau: bouncing back from bankruptcy, Detroit is back on the map with visitors, boasting 120 new restaurant openings in recent years along with welcoming vessels sailing on increasingly-popular Great Lakes cruises, such as those offered by Victory Cruise Lines.

Visit Myrtle Beach: offering plenty of value and 14-degree weather in its Christmas low season, visitors can enjoy events such as Brookgreen Gardens’ Night of 1,000 Candles, while travel agents can stand to make large commissions on long-stay accommodations for families visiting during the holiday season.

Travel Texas: With the PGA moving its headquarters to Frisco (just north of Dallas), the property will see two championship golf courses and a 500-room OMNI resort opening in 2022.

Brand USA: With a focus on content and storytelling to promote the U.S. many travel destinations, Brand USA will launch ‘Into the American Wild,’ its latest feature-length film and third in a partnership with Macgillivray-Freeman Films, showcasing the various landscapes of the U.S. as told by John Herrington, the first Native American astronaut, and Alaskan pilot Ariel Tweto. In Canada, Brand USA has also partnered with Siren Communications in order to increase its reach to the travel trade.

Air Canada: the carrier’s Montreal-Seattle route will be among the first to be operated on the airline’s new A220 aircraft. Additionally, a new reservations system will roll out in November.

Colorado Tourism: The Broadmoor is the only AAA Five Diamond resort in the U.S., featuring three properties and amenities such as a bowling alley and movie theatre. The state is also increasing its focus on Native American tourism draws, such as Denver’s annual pow wow – the largest in the U.S.

Visit Florida: The Sunshine State’s latest destination, the Sports Coast is located just north of Tampa and boasts a new indoor sports complex. Meanwhile in Orlando, Legoland Florida will see the opening of its new Pirate Island Hotel, a pirate-themed family resort, in 2020.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment: Five new rollercoasters are coming to SeaWorld’s parks in 2020; these include the Arctic-themed Icebreaker at SeaWorld Orlando, which will see the company team up with Alaska Sea Life to educate guests. New slides are also coming to some of the company’s water parks and pricing for Canadian residents is also available, good for one year from the date of purchase.

Universal Orlando Resort: The theme park has recently seen the opening of Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, a new interactive rollercoaster exploring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The park also recently opened its seventh hotel, Universal’s Endless Summer Resort, while an eighth property, Dockside Inn & Suites, opens next March.

Hawaii Tourism Canada: The Aloha State is focusing on authentic experiences for 2019, from exploring Lahaina, the former capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom, to meeting local artisans in Oahu’s Waimea Valley and checking out the local wildlife in Molokai’s Kamakou Preserve.

The Florida Keys & Key West: Florida’s southernmost region recently welcomed the opening of Bungalows Key Largo, the state’s first all-inclusive property featuring a series of bungalows, a zen garden spa and more.

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