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High gas prices keeping American tourists closer to home

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – You could see fewer US licence plates in BC this summer.

A study by the US Travel Association suggests the price of gas will keep Americans closer to home. Those who do plan on a road trip say they will likely spend less money at their vacation spot.

“It’s certainly not surprising, with the American economy still recovering in many respects. People are looking at discretionary income and they are really considering how far they can travel, what they can afford, and are opting to stay closer to home,” says Walt Judas with Tourism Vancouver.

He says the number of American tourists visiting Vancouver has dropped slightly in previous years; he expects high gas prices, the fact that it’s an election year in the US and the struggling economy to keep those numbers down.

But Tourism Vancouver is working hard to attract travellers from the US. “We are partnering with our hotel community. We have some innovative campaigns in the marketplace; a lot of that is on the digital side,” outlines Judas.

“We continue to remain active in the US market. Vancouver is still in a good position. We are still a destination that people are interested in. We have programs in place with specific travel agents [and a] ‘Vancouver specialist’ program, that trains them on the Vancouver product. So, there is a number of activities that we continue to carry out in the marketplace,” he adds.

The latest numbers from Statistics Canada suggest foreign visitors spent 0.8 per cent more in Canada in the fourth quarter, with gains in overnight travel from both the United States and overseas countries.