Book the Canadian Way
Recent bookings at Canadian tour operators and travel agencies
reveal a quietly emerging trend: more Americans than ever before
are booking travel through Canadian sources, says Martha Chapman,
Manager of Corporate Communications for Signature Vacations. "The
fact that you can book travel to far-flung destinations with a Canadian
company, paying in Canadian funds, is one of the best kept secrets
in the travel industry.
"For several years now, Americans - notably those living in border
states - figured out that they could book direct, usually non-stop,
charter flights to many destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean,
while saving time and money. This past winter, for example, savings
were US $1600 per couple for a package that included a connecting
flight from New York to Toronto, our direct flight to Grenada, and
a stay at a 4 ½ star all-inclusive resort on the island."
This summer, the travel packages to Europe offer similar saving.
"Signature's new Britain and Europe a la carte program offers a
huge list of options which may be booked individually or as parts
of an itinerary. Components include direct flights from Vancouver,
Toronto, Montreal and several other major Canadian cities to Britain
and Europe. Destinations range from ever-popular cities, like London
- available with dayliner flights from Toronto - to destinations,
like Warsaw, Poland and Malaga, Spain. Some rates are as low as
C $519 round-trip - about US $345."
As for land programs, savvy travelers are saving by booking just
about everything in advance from this side of the pond (as the Brits
say), with flexibility to boot. Martha Chapman notes particular
items that are best booked before you go: "Rental cars; rail passes
and tickets, including EuroStar through the Chunnel; and motorcoach
tours." Among Signature's offerings are the City Packs, to European
cities including Paris, Amsterdam, London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Belfast,
5 cities in Germany and 3 cities in southern Spain. The City Packs,
which include two nights at a downtown hotel plus a city tour and
airport transfers, allow travelers the options of adding on day
trips to major attractions, for example: from London to Stonehenge
and Bath; from Paris to Versailles. Travelers who prefer to detour
on a whim may prefer the flexibility of Signature's "Go As You Please"
program. It includes accommodation vouchers, prepaid in Canadian
dollars, for an array of hotels from friendly Bed & Breakfasts in
Britain to first-class properties in Germany to the impressive Manors
& Mansions collection of 200 distinctive properties in England,
Scotland and Wales, ranging from old vicarages to historic 12th
century castles. The Mansions & Manors program runs about C$99.
Or US $65. per night, including breakfast.
Interestingly, when it comes to destinations or cruises that are
traditionally "off-limits" to Americans, motivated travelers are
bypassing U.S. restrictions by booking through Canada and traveling
through another "legal" city.
For example, a host of Canadian tour wholesalers - including Sunquest,
Alba Tours, Signature and Air Canada Vacations - offer packages
to Cuba, most often originating in Toronto. Jill Wykes, Manger of
Corporate Communications for Sunquest and Alba Tours, notes, "We
have many Americans booking our packages through both U.S. and Canadian
travel agents because they cannot visit Cuba from the U.S."
Facilitating such accessibility seems to be the driving factor
behind a new cruising program being launched by Blyth & Company,
a Toronto-based travel agency. A recent press release announced
that the company is "facilitating" the Cuba Cruise Corporation's
four and five day cruises from Nassau to Havana, beginning November
2000. Apparently, in light of the U.S. legal requirements, unlicensed
American citizens will be able to participate, without violating
U.S. law, provided that they observe certain requirements, including
that their Cuban expenses will be paid by a separate organization
(most likely one promoting international peace and understanding
through people-to-people contact).
Sunquest and Alba Tours: www.sunquest.ca
Air Canada vacations: www.aircanadavacations.com
Cuba Cruise, Blyth & Company: 800-387-1387
Cuba Cruise Website: www.cubacruising.com
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