RECESSIONARY DEALS, ONTARIO CAMPING & NYTIMES ON TORONTO
Nice to see Air Canada being aggressive today with its new promotion.
Called the "Lowest Fare Guarantee," it says folks who "find a lower fare for the exact same Air Canada itinerary with another Canadian online travel retailer within 24 hours of completing a purchase on aircanada.com" will get "a $50 credit, plus the fare difference, per passenger."
Trips have to originate in Canada for travel within Canada or between Canada and the United States, excluding Puerto Rico.
It's not a bad deal, but it sounds like a fair bit of trouble for $50 and the fare difference. Especially when you go on-line and read stories in U.S. papers about $14 (okay, $14 U.S.) deals on Jet Blue between New York and San Francisco. Now, THAT'S a bargain, even if they only appeared on line for a day and you had to be lucky to find them.
A couple U.S. hotels have offered rooms on-line for as little as a dollar, including the Orchard Hotel in San Francisco and the Alexander Inn in Philadelphia. Haven't seen any similar deals in Canada yet.
Sites like travelocity (www.travelocity.com) and travelzoo (www.travelzoo.com) and hotwire (www.hotwire.com) often advertise great deals, and check places like farecompare (www.farecompare.com) and a new one I stumbled across called voyij (www.voyij.com.) Also new on my horizon are www.tripkick.com and www.raveables.com. Finally a New York Times piece I spotted talks about sites called www.luxurylink.com, where you can bid on vacations, and www.FloridaVacationAuction.com, which should prove popular in Ontario.
It makes sense given the economy. The folks who run KOA - Kampgrounds of America - say new campers have risen from 15.4 per cent of their business in 2007 to 21.3 % last year. They also say more people than ever report that they stayed at home the night before their first night at a campground, which suggests more folks are sticking close to home for their holidays.
KOA - www.koa.com - has camping facilities all over southern Ontario, from cottage country to London and Niagara Falls, to Owen Sound, the 1000 Islands and a couple in the Toronto area. They offer everything from ice cream socials and pancake breakfasts to heated pools, outdoor movies, basketball, kayaking, trampllines, horeseback riding and fishing, depending on the location of course.
T.O. REPORT CARD
Nice story from the New York Times on the Big Smoke came out on-line this morning. There's some nice stuff about how polite we all are (relatively true) and how the trolleys all run on time (hello?) and how clean the sidewalks are (we can't imagine where the reporter was hanging out). Anyway, it's terrific publicity for a town that needs a good tourism boost, not that everyone else doesn't (see item below on Britain's woes).
The reporter, Denny Lee, found an interesting Queen West restaurant I've never heard of called OddFellows, with bison meat loaf and venison burgers, and also raved about Little India and the new Frank Gehry addition to the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Lee called the AGO addition "a stunning homecoming for an architect credited with helping other cities flourish, not that Toronto needs a hand."
LONDON CALLING ... WHO'S ANSWERING?
Reuters reports the number of foreign tourists visiting Britain in the first three months of this year was 13 per cent lower than in 2008, and Britons made 19 per cent fewer trips abroad.
British tourism has been putting on a big push, talking about how prices are lower than any time in the past few years. Yours truly travelled to London in February for about $600 and found a decent, 3-star hotel in a good part of town for $70 Canadian. Meals don't have to be pricey in London, and many top attractions such as the big museums are free.
ALBERTA TRAVEL PROMOTION
Ontario residents have a chance to be the star in their own adventure as part of Travel Alberta's "The Great Alberta Getaway Classic." The prize includes four days in June in Calgary, Edmonton and the Rockies, with ziplines and hikes and bungee jumping and other pursuits, and the winner's trip will be put on video at GoCanadianRockies.com for the world to see.
Applicants must upload their photo and a video or short story to GoCanadianRockies.com/GreatAlbertaGetaway and say whey they'd be the ideal candidates to become the Alberta Adventure Ambassador.