Canadians flying out of U.S. airports to avoid taxes
Published Wednesday, February 16, 2011 8:49PM EST
About one in five Canadian leisure travellers avoided high domestic taxes by driving to a United States airport to fly to their destination, according to a Hotel Association of Canada survey.
The amount of Canadians who crossed the border prior to flying was up three percentage points from 18 per cent in 2009, according the group's 2011 travel intentions survey.
Another 11 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they are considering making the trip to a U.S. airport this year because of dollar parity.
The potential that a third of Canadians could head to American airports could cost domestic businesses -- such as hotels and airlines -- billions, the hotel association says.
Association president Tony Pollard says the Canadian government needs to reduce airport and fuel taxes, security surcharges and airport rents, all of which the travel industry has long lobbied for.
"At the end of the day, the government's losing revenue, industry is losing revenue, we're all losing," Pollard told CTV News. "We need to stop this snowball effect and turn it around."
Toronto's Pearson International Airport, for example, has some of the most expensive taxes in the world. That makes the airport near Buffalo, N.Y. -- a two-hour drive away -- inviting for travellers from the GTA.
Pollard said travellers from Ottawa are heading to Syracuse, N.Y. to board planes, while Montrealers can fly out of New York State's Plattsburgh International Airport, which bills itself on its website as "Montreal's U.S. Airport." Travellers from Vancouver have long opted to fly out of Bellingham or Seattle, Washington.
"You name it, the list goes on and on," he said. "And the numbers keep increasing. We're very, very concerned."
Pollard says the Internet has made it easier for travellers to find deals, making it more likely for them to cross the border if the price is right.
The survey found 73 per cent of leisure and 86 per cent of business travellers go online for information before booking.
Some 40 per cent used their mobiles to check the weather, 27 per cent to check flight times, 19 per cent to book hotels and 11 per cent to book travel tickets.
The survey found 83 per cent of Canadians plan to take a vacation in 2011, up from 78 per cent last year.
The online survey was conducted in January 2011 among 1,627 "likely travellers" and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 per cent.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Pat Foran