Travel may not be the same during these unprecedented times, but new data from Booking.com reveals that the happiness travel can bring is hardly measured in kilometres. Though travel plans may have changed drastically in 2020, this has given Canadians the opportunity to explore closer to home, discovering – and in many instances rediscovering – hidden gems a stone’s throw away.
Delving into this summer’s travel patterns, Booking.com calculated that the average distance Canadians travelled (June – August) is down 71% compared with the same time last year – slightly more than the global average decrease of 63%.(1) Through summer of 2019, Canadian travellers journeyed on average 2,252 kilometres per booking. This summer, that distance has dropped to 662 kilometres per booking – just slightly further than the distance from Calgary to Kamloops!
Happiness isn’t measured in kilometres
82% of the total distance travelled by Canadians between June 1st and August 31st, 2020 was within Canada, compared to only 17% during the same period of 2019. Drivable lakeside towns and wooded escapes topped the list of trending destinations booked by travelling Canadians, as many have taken the opportunity to visit family and friends they’ve been apart from due to travel restrictions and social distancing measures.
Destinations rediscovered: from embracing Banff to hitting the highs of Mont-Tremblant
Many have rediscovered the natural abundance of the Great White North, with classically Canadian lake and river-side towns seeing an increase in interest. A few of the domestic destinations that are summer 2020 stand-out stars include Banff – Alberta, Kingston – Ontario, Revelstoke – B.C., Mont-Tremblant – Quebec, and Canmore – Alberta.
While many under-the-radar gems are trending, long standing, tried-and-true urban favorites still top the list of most popular destinations as Canadian travellers rediscovered their home country this summer. The top booked destinations this summer reveal that Canadians still love a city break with Quebec City, Toronto, Calgary, Montreal, and Vancouver topping the list.
And when it comes to accommodation choice, Canadians were more likely to have opted for a cabin or chalet than they were last year, followed by a lodge, inn, motel, or resort, which all topped the rankings of trending accommodation types for Canadian travellers this summer. This rise in smaller, less populated accommodation types shows the shift in travel trends. When looking back at the end of 2019, before we knew that our 2020 travel plans would be clouded by a global pandemic, only 12% of Canadians were intending to stay at a cabin or chalet, while 59% were anticipating staying in a traditional hotel.
The unexpected route to our travel plans this summer
While the events of the year have led to seismic shifts in travel behaviors and destination choices, travel has still found a way to satisfy many peoples’ wanderlust. At the end of 2019, Canadians were dreaming of fantastic local in-destination restaurants (76%) and beautiful beaches (67%). Some (41%) even dreamt of travelling to visit family and friends before they knew their contact with them would have been limited this year.
Many of those travel desires would typically have been met in far flung destinations, but this year many have discovered these simple pleasures right next door. Whether relaxing on the beaches of B.C. rather than Fiji, or exploring the city delights of Toronto rather than Tokyo, the travel desires of many Canadians have still been indulged in 2020, just a little closer to home.
Arjan Dijk, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Booking.com, said: “During these unprecedented times, it’s reassuring to see that while our plans and priorities have changed, our passion for travel has not. The summer of 2020 proved that the happiness travel can bring is not simply measured in kilometres and that there is plenty to be explored and unforgettable memories to be made right next door. With our mission to make it easier for everyone to experience the world, we offer the widest choice of accommodations, exceptional value and the easiest experience so travellers can get out and enjoy the adventure we call life, whenever it’s safe to do so – whether near or far.”