Economic blues : Tourism is down


Here's the headline in Monday's Globe and Mail: 'Perfect storm' hits Canada's tourism market

And it has an even gloomier subhead: "High gas prices, strong dollar, economic woes result in noticeable declines in visitors to Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver"

You can read the entire story by clicking here.

I don't think anybody's surprised. Last month, I attended a travel journalists' conference in Oklahoma City. One of the keynote speakers was Pauline Frommer, the daughter of Arthur Frommer of Frommer's travel guides.

Here are some of the enlightening things she told us:

* There were 2 million fewer tourists to the US in 2007, down 17%.

* There were 14% fewer Americans traveling to British Columbia, and 20% fewer to Quebec.

* 100 Amtrak cars are out of service, with many cities now cut off from train service.

* It's much harder to get a visa to travel to the US.

* The US has no agency marketing to foreign tourists.
Ms. Frommer told the group, "We are ambassadors. Make sure that travel is on the national agenda." She also encouraged travel journalists to write about our national parks, as the Bicentennial is in 2016.

And instead of writing about luxury travel ("Too much!"), journalists need to look at what travelers can really afford.

"It's about going out and discovering the world," said Frommer. "Travel is a life changing experience."

'Tis true.

Pictured above: Pauline Frommer speaks to the 2008 NATJA Conference
Photo by Sue Frause

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