BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Vacationing at home

PATRICIA BEST May 12 1986
BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Vacationing at home

PATRICIA BEST May 12 1986

Vacationing at home

Early last month the producers at ABC’s popular morning television program, Good Morning America, were planning a week-long special series on summer vacationing for Americans on the Italian and French Rivieras. But four weeks ago, after terrorist bombs exploded in a TWA airliner over Athens and in a West German bar frequented by American soldiers, the show’s executive producer, Phyllis McGrady, changed her mind. Although the locations for filming in France and Italy had been scouted and chosen, McGrath cancelled the shooting in favor of a series on vacation destinations in North America and the Caribbean—in-

cluding a segment on the scenic attractions of Canada’s East Coast. That segment-scheduled to run on May 7— features film footage of Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and a live broadcast from Peggy’s Cove, N.S. Said Jachelene De Mave, the publicist for Good Morning America: “It was becoming obvious to us that people were rethinking their vacation plans.”

Indeed, tourism officials in Eastern and Central Canada say that they expect a surge of vacationers from the United States this year—despite the West’s powerful drawing card, Expo 86. And those Americans will be visiting not only because of rising fears of terrorism in Europe but also because of a low Canadian dollar and falling gasoline prices.

In Ontario, which accounts for about one-third of Canada’s $20 billion annu-

al tourism revenue, the increase in the number of visiting Americans was already evident early this year. While the ministry of tourism and recreation had forecast a one-per-cent increase in U.S. traffic to Ontario for 1986, the actual rise from January to February was 17.5 per cent. Said Kenneth Kaczanowski, the ministry’s research manager: “That is a quantum leap. We have not seen percentages like that since the early 1970s.”

In Prince Edward Island, accommodation bookings in January were up 38 per cent. The province’s department of tourism is receiving inquiries from Canadians and Americans who have

cancelled trips to Mediterranean countries. Said Bruce Garrity, the department’s manager of visitor services: “All our operators are telling us that bookings are up. It looks good.”

But tourism organizations are not planning to exploit the fear of terrorism. Canada has a reputation as a safe country, but it also lacks experience in dealing with terrorist attacks. Ontario is stressing in its advertising a “stretched” American dollar and the proximity of Canada. Said Anne McCall, director of tourism marketing in Ontario’s ministry of tourism and recreation: “The problem is, we don’t want to be seen to be taking advantage of somebody’s misfortune, but we want to say you are welcome.”

-PATRICIA BEST with MICHAEL SALTER in Toronto

PATRICIA BEST

MICHAEL SALTER