A remarkable year in Canadian travel just got a whole lot more interesting.
The news today is that Sunwing Vacations has agreed to combine with Signature Vacations for what will be a huge player in the Canadian travel business. Sunwing has been flying high, while First Choice Canada, which runs Signature Vacations and SellOffVacations, has been having considerable trouble.
What it means to consumers is hard to say. On the one hand, the new company, called Sunwing Travel Group, will have more buying power. On the other hand, it means less competition for business; and that's usually not good for buyers.
Colin Hunter, chairman and majority shareholder of the Sunwing Travel Group, said the proposed amalgamation "will create a stronger company better able to compete against Canada's leading tour operators, while offering a broader range of travel destinations to the travelling public. The proposed company will be in a position to improve its product range and offer competitive prices with increased efficiencies resulting from the transaction."
Improved product range and competitive prices sound like good terms. But how competitive will they be? Certainly, Sunwing has been an aggressive travel company, seeing revenues go from something like $30 million to $660 million in the last five years.
Based in Toronto, Sunwing Vacations departs to 31 sun destinations, including standbys such as Cuba, Mexico, Florida and Jamaica but also "newer" spots such as Honduras and Belize.
Earlier this year, Conquest Vacations suddenly shut its doors after 37 years of operation. Conquest said it was a victim of overcapacity issues and a price war between groups such as Sunwing, WestJet Vacations, Air Canada Vacations and Transat A.T.
Meanwhile, in the airlines business, you have West Jet and Air Canada engaged in some solid price wars, while Porter Airlines continues to expand out of the Toronto Island Airport.
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