CAA-Quebec's annual vacation plans survey: caution first and foremost!

QUEBEC CITY, June 14, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - CAA-Quebec's annual survey of its members' vacation plans reveals that only 63% of respondents intend to take holidays this summer, compared to 80% in 2010. The figure is also 7% lower than the 2011 findings. In addition, when the survey was conducted in mid-May, 20% still did not know whether they would be going away this summer; this is a significant 6% increase over the number of undecided respondents in 2011.

Highlights of the 2012 survey include the finding that more respondents who will be going on holiday  - 23%, compared to 15% last year - will be taking only a few days off. The popularity of the traditional two-week holiday has dropped a significant 10%, from 34% last year to only 24% of respondents this year. According to the survey, 16% of respondents will be holidaying for three weeks, while 12% will be away for four weeks or longer; these lengths of time have remained as popular as in previous years.

"Based on this survey's overall results, it can be reasonably assumed that respondents are still cautious and are holding back somewhat on their summer holiday plans," says Sophie Gagnon, CAA-Quebec's Assistant Vice President, Public and Government Relations. "Uncertainty, hesitation and plans to vacation in their respective regions are the key trends observed."

Destinations and accommodation
More than half - 55% - of the respondents who said they will be vacationing this summer indicated that they will stay in Quebec. Other Canadian provinces (15%), the East Coast of the U.S. (10%) and Florida (3%) also remain popular destinations. The proportion of respondents opting to vacation in these destinations outside Quebec has not changed significantly from previous years. The type of accommodation booked, however, has changed slightly. While hotels, motels and inns remain very popular, with 35% of respondents opting for those types of accommodation (unchanged from last year), the proportion who plan to stay with friends or relatives has increased from 18% in 2011 to 25% in 2012. This change could be due to the fact that the number of people opting to camp has declined 7%, from 21% in 2011 to 14% this year.

Budgets, parity of the Canadian dollar and holidays in the United States
Like last year, the vast majority of vacationers - 70% - plan to spend less than $2,000 on their holidays. The budget will be lower for 20% of respondents, unchanged for 53% and higher for 23%; these figures are virtually the same as those for the past two years. However, the survey sought to determine whether the Canadian dollar being near par with its U.S. counterpart is an incentive for Quebecers to travel to the U.S. According to the survey, the answer is no! On the contrary: last year, 32% of respondents stated that the strength of the dollar would certainly or probably influence their  plans to travel to the United States while the percentage of respondents who answered the same this year was down to only 21%. Thus, 63% of respondents answered that this factor will probably or definitely not impact their choice of destination.

What about gas prices?
Because a very sizeable proportion of respondents (75%) who plan to go on holiday will be driving, will gas prices have an impact on travel plans? For 42% of respondents, the answer is yes; however, this is down from 55% last year when gas prices were only very slightly higher at the same time. Thus, higher gas prices will have different impacts on travellers: 45% will holiday closer to home, 17% will cut back on entertainment and 15% will eat fewer meals in restaurants... all these statistics are slightly lower than those recorded last year.

"We could be led to believe that motorists are used to higher fuel prices, however data from this same survey show us instead that 69% of them have opted to change their driving habits since early 2012," notes Ms. Gagnon. "Under these circumstances, it can only be assumed that fuel prices may have less of an impact on their summer travel plans."

Changing habits to cut back on fuel costs
Generally speaking, 74% of respondents are planning their travel better, 65% are driving slower and 12% are using public transportation more. Because respondents could tick more than one answer for this question, it can be concluded that these motorists are applying more than one good driving practice to offset rising gas prices.

It is worth noting that 4% of respondents who have not changed their habits feel that pump prices are not sufficiently high to have an impact on their behaviour.

This electronic survey of members' vacation plans coincides with the beginning of another summer season for CAA-Quebec Travel, which offers many packages and motoring getaways on its website as well as in its 13 service centres. The survey was conducted between May 1 and May 22 among respondents from a representative sample of CAA-Quebec members.

CAA-Quebec, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1904, provides automotive, travel, residential and financial services and privileges to its 1.1 million members.

SOURCE CAA-QUEBEC

For further information:

Montreal
Cédric Essiminy 
Public Relations Officer 
514 861-7111, ext. 3210 
Cell.: 514 717-4040
cessiminy@caaquebec.com

Québec
Philippe St-Pierre
Communications Advisor
418 624-2424, ext. 2418
pstpierre@caaquebec.com

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