I flew to Toronto this week. One flight out, two flights (hello, bizarre sculpture in Calgary airport!) on the way back. While checking in at a terminal, uh, in the terminal, I glanced at the seat selection screen. There were plenty of other seats from which to choose. The seat next to me was empty on all three flights.
Julie was down at Granville Island today. It was a gorgeous day, and that place is usually teaming with tourists in the summer months. She was surprised how uncrowded the island was. She easily found parking.
We recently used Hotwire to book a four-star hotel in downtown Seattle for Gnomedex. The conference occurs over a weekend in August, surely a popular time of year for tourists visiting the city. We’re paying US $99 a night.
I know these are all isolated anecdotes, but they confirm what I’ve been reading over the past few months: fewer people are traveling shorter distances. Here’s some empirical evidence. Between March, 2008 and March, 2009, the Canadian Tourism Council reports an 11.5% reduction in the number of trips to and within Canada. That probably represents the entire profit margin for a lot of hotels, travel agencies and related services.
As a matter of curiosity, I checked which countries were showing the greatest decline in trips to Canada. The percentages reflect how many fewer visitors came in March, 2009 compared to March, 2008:
- United Kingdom – 24%
- Japan – 24%
- South Korea – 23%
- Mexico – 21%
Of course, most foreign visitors to Canada are from the US, where travel is only off 5.9% between March, 2008 and 2009.
In any case, I guess it’s all good news for the consumer, and pretty bad news for anybody in the travel industry.