Canadians are getting hammered at the airport.
It's not a new trend by any means, but a study out of the University of Quebec at Montreal this week shows just how much Canadians are paying to fly out of airports in Canada these days, compared to the cost in nearby U.S. airports.
You might think we get hammered here in Toronto when you look at the cost of flights to Florida from New York state on such airlines as Spirit, but it's not so bad, really. According to a Sun Media report on the Quebec study, prices in Toronto are only 22 per cent higher than out of Buffalo. In Vancouver, however, it's twice as much; 44 per cent more to fly out of YVR than from over the border in Washington state.
Montreal? Hoo boy, unbelievable. The study said it costs Montrealers 96 per cent more to fly out of their own city than to go from Burlington, Vermont or Plattsburgh, N.Y., both short drives away. Plattsburgh, in fact, has taken to calling itself "Montreal's U.S. Airport." I'm sure the folks at Dorval aren't pleased, but I can't blame the Plattsburgh folks a bit.
U.S.. airports have lower operating costs and get tons of subsidies from government. Here in Canada, airlines pay more for labour and fuel and also get slapped with large airport fees from governments that see airports as cash cows.
The playing field isn't even remotely level. And it's hard to see anything changing soon.
A KAWARTHATS BUTTER TART TOUR AND A CHEESE TOUR, TOO
Did you know there's a Butter Tart trail in the Kawarthas? Nearly 30 bakeries in The City of Kawartha Lakes, Peterborough and the Kawarthas and Northumberland County are currently on the tour, and there's a Kawarthas Butter Tart tour kick-off at the Morrow Building in Peterborough on Sunday, April 28.
Ten butter tart bakeries will sample and sell their tarts and a panel of celebrity judges (Hey, where's my invite?) will determine the best tarts in a number of categories, I read in a press release.
Categories? Like what? Most shapely raisins? I can see best pastry, I guess, but what on earth would be other categories?
On top of the fact that they're delicious (especially with raisins), it's great to have this tour because butter tarts are an Ontario thing. Which is pretty rare in the culinary world. I mean, think about it. Other than butter tarts, I can't think of many things that you can find in Ontario but won't find, say, in Manitoba or B.C. or New Brunswick. Peameal bacon might be bigger here than in Winnipeg or Prince Rupert or Halifax, for that matter, but I don't think its as uniquely Ontario as the majestic butter tart.
On a related note, I see that Chowbella and CHEESEWERKS have teamed up this summer to bring cheese lovers a food tour like no other in Canada. City Mouse + Country Mouse is a legend dairy experience that takes folks on a day-long trip across southern Ontario, visiting artisan cheese producers, learning how the stuff is made and tasting local food along the way.
The tour starts at a popular bakery in Toronto's east end, where folks get breakfast treats before hitting the countryside to learn about Cow, Goat and Sheeps milk cheese (what, no Tibetan Yak?), with samples at every stop. Lunch is served and then folks head back to the city to check out a top cheese boutique prior to heading back to CHEESEWERKS for an exclusive Artisan Cheese and Craft Beer pairing and dining event.
Current tour dates are April 20, May 25 and June 22, which means you can do this AND catch the butter tart tour in Peterborough April 28. The cheese tour costs $184 per person plus HST, which includes transportation, lunch, all food/beverage samples and the dinner with craft beer pairings.For more info go to www.chowbella.ca/tours.
CANADIANS STAYING HOME?
Figures released by Stats Canada this week show the country's tourism sector grew at an annualized rate of 3.6 per cent. That's excellent compared to the economy as a whole, and encouraging news.
A report in the The Globe and Mail said tourism spending, in real terms, has gone up in 13 of the past 14 quarters; up 9.4 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2009 to the fourth quarter of last year.
It's mostly due to Canadians staying home. Foreign tourism spending is up 7 per cent since the end of 2009 but has slowed considerably the last couple years. Real tourism spending among domestic travelers is up 10 per cent since the end of 2009, the report said.
The report also said real spending on air transportation has risen a whopping 27 per cent since the middle of 2009. That reflects both a desire to travel and, of course, the higher air fares we all face these days. Unless we fly out of Plattsburgh, Seattle or Buffalo, that is.
FLORIDA DRIVING UPDATE
There are reports that the Florida Senate has voted to repeal that silly law that requires Canadians to have International Driving Permits. But I haven't been able to confirm it.
The governor has said he'll sign the repeal legislation immediately upon receiving it. But, again, I haven't seen any reports to suggest when that might be.
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