Members of Discover America came together for the organization's annual general meeting on Feb. 25, with special guest Jennifer Hendry of the Conference Board of Canada on hand to deliver a market update on what trends are anticipated for U.S. travel in 2015.
While leisure visits to the U.S. have grown from 10.6 million in 2004 to 18.2 million in 2014, Hendry said that number is expected to remain fairly flat, growing at a compound annual rate of just 2.2 per cent, considering the dollar forecast to average $0.85 US over the next four years.
She noted that while in the short-term, the slipping dollar value will have more of an impact on trips by car than by air, and the lower price of fuel is expected to counterbalance that factor, so no significant impact is likely this winter.
Canadian airlines continue to support growth in visitor arrivals to destinations just south of the border, with major capacity growth planned for the coming year. Florida alone is forecast to see more than 180,000 additional seats from Canadian gateways – with 84 per cent of these coming from Air Canada. Hawaii is set for a 12.5 per cent growth in capacity, New Orleans more than eight per cent, and Phoenix 9.2 per cent, among others.
Hendry provided this five-year forecast:
- Most economic, demographic and travel industry factors are in place to support modest growth in Canadian outbound leisure travel during the forecast period.
- Changes in the resource sector notwithstanding, Canada’s economy is forecast to grow in 2015. GDP growth will stay around two per cent during 2016-18.
- Canada’s population will grow by 5.7 per cent over the forecast period and will age dramatically. Both will have a positive influence on outbound leisure travel through 2018.
- Canada’s baby boomers will continue to drive the outbound leisure travel market during the forecast period; by 2017, there will be more seniors (65+) in Canada than children.
She added that research shows the top five U.S. states Canadians would like to visit are Hawaii, Florida, California, Alaska and Nevada (specifically, Las Vegas).
Discover America update
- The organization continues to work on a website revamp.
- A new LinkedIn page has been created for members of Discover America - Canada.
- Discover America Day 2014 was a great success, and plans for ninth annual event in 2015 are yet to be confirmed for either Oct. 5 or 6.
- IPW 2015 is coming up from May 30 to June 3. Fifty-two Canadian delegates have signed up so far.
- New Orleans will host IPW in 2016 – its first time since 2002.
- Discover America continues its quest to grow membership.