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Inflation, COVID-19 holding Canadians back from holiday travel, poll suggests

Inflation, COVID-19 holding Canadians back from holiday travel, poll suggests

High inflation and COVID-19 are dampening some Canadians’ hopes for travelling as the holiday season approaches, a new poll indicates.

Right now, 77 per cent of 1,001 Canadians Ipsos surveyed exclusively for Global News in October said they’re comfortable travelling within Canada over the holidays, while 55 per cent said the same for international travel.

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For those who aren’t comfortable travelling, 65 per cent of them said high prices for hotels and tickets, for example, are holding them back, and 61 per cent said they’re either afraid of catching COVID-19 or remain anxious about relaxed travel restrictions.

Click to play video: 'Inflation, COVID-19 holding Canadians back from holiday travel, poll suggests'

Inflation, COVID-19 holding Canadians back from holiday travel, poll suggests

The Ipsos survey comes as officials are worrying over a potential recession during a winter where respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 and influenza are expected to circulate more widely.

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As a result, some Canadians are reigning in their expectations for travel over the historically busy holiday season, said Sean Simpson, senior vice-president with Ipsos Public Affairs Canada.

“All of this on a balance of scales is causing many Canadians to say it just may not be worth it,” he told Global News.

“If they can save money, save their health, save their headache and avoid some of that international travel, some think that that may be the way to go.”

Click to play video: '45{32bc5e747b31d501df756e0d52c4fc33c2ecc33869222042bcd2be76582ed298} of Canadians concerned about holiday spending costs: Ipsos poll'

45{32bc5e747b31d501df756e0d52c4fc33c2ecc33869222042bcd2be76582ed298} of Canadians concerned about holiday spending costs: Ipsos poll

Ipsos’s poll, which was conducted between Oct. 18 and 20, comes at a time when Ottawa is warning of a global economic slowdown next year due to soaring inflation, which sat at 6.9 per cent in September. However, Canada is ready to weather whatever is thrown at it this winter despite being set for “significantly weaker growth,” according to the government’s fall economic statement released last Thursday.

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Meanwhile, COVID-19 continues to circulate. Health Canada has OK’d a slew of bivalent vaccines designed to reduce the effects of Omicron’s contagious subvariants. The World Health Organization is monitoring more than 300 Omicron subvariants at a time when Canada and other northern hemisphere nations enter winter, a season where respiratory illnesses like influenza can easily circulate.

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Ipsos’s survey also found that 48 per cent of respondents said they’re wary of airport issues, like lost luggage, which persisted over the summer, while 30 per cent said they’re uncomfortable with airlines not guaranteeing available seats or specific flights. Furthermore, 31 per cent of Canadians said they’re uncomfortable with the political instability of different countries, while 21 per cent dread impractical and unnecessary health regulations.

“Canadians are saying, ‘If I’m going to cut out some of the luxuries … in my life, that may be one of the first to go,’” Simpson said.

“Canadians are being more fiscally prudent and many are saying that they’re not going to travel overseas as a result.”

Click to play video: 'Cost-saving tips for trips to sunny destinations'

Cost-saving tips for trips to sunny destinations

Canada’s travel industry, which was hurt after the onset of the pandemic in 2020, struggled to reboot after Canadians rushed to airports when travel restrictions eased earlier this year.

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Long lines, delayed flights and lost luggage plagued the industry throughout the spring and summer.

However, with inflation not going away easily, the travel industry could see less demand for trips booked this holiday season, said Kiefer Van Mulligen, an economist at the Conference Board of Canada.

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Canadians no longer have “the same kind of discretionary spending firepower” they may have had earlier this year and will be reassessing their priorities, he said.

“Even if they decide to travel, the number of places they visit or the amount of money they spend on those trips won’t be as significant as perhaps in the past. That matters for the tourism industry’s recovery,” Van Mulligen said.

“If people aren’t spending as much money, then it’ll be a more gradual path back to kind of pre-pandemic levels. It will definitely lower the pace of recovery.”

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COVID-19: Montreal family finally gets long-awaited refund for cancelled trip

Air Canada, the largest airliner in the nation, told Global News in a statement it is seeing “very strong” demand for leisure and tropical trips this winter that exceeds 2019 levels. Advanced ticket sales for future travel were also strong in the company’s third quarter, a spokesperson said in an email.

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“You will recall that in the first six months of 2021, flights to Mexico and the Caribbean were suspended and travel restrictions were still ever present the following winter, so many customers are eager to return to travel,” they said.

Demand this holiday season will likely be higher compared with 2021 and 2020, said Simpson.

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Rising inflation eating into young Canadians’ disposable income — ‘It’s insane’

He pointed to Ipsos’s survey that found younger Canadians are more at ease with travelling abroad than older generations, with 68 per cent of respondents ages 18 to 34 saying they would, compared with 43 per cent of Canadians 55 or older.

“I expect travel will rebound compared to last year, (but) will probably still be softer than we were in 2019,” Simpson said.

“But you’re going to see a lot more younger people on airplanes this holiday season while the older people … they’re going to be taking steps to protect their financial situation, particularly those on fixed incomes, and so we may see fewer older people travelling abroad this winter.”

Click to play video: 'Canadian airlines, passengers brace for holiday rush'

Canadian airlines, passengers brace for holiday rush

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between Oct. 18 and 20 on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,001 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed. Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to census parameters. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18+ been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

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— with files from Global News’ Craig Lord

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