Slowdown or not, Quebec travelers are eager to see the world.
Almost three-quarters of respondents in a survey conducted last fall by the tourism chair at the University of Quebec in Montreal say they want to travel in 2024 despite the economic crisis, although more than half admit that current uncertainties could affect your vacation plans. Some 64 percent believe that travel plays an important role in their mental health.
Released Wednesday, the online survey highlights six key trends for the coming year. They include the impact of teleworking on the appetite for team-building activities, the growing importance of extreme weather events on vacation demand, and the emergence of artificial intelligence as a travel planning tool.
“Travel demand persists, even if there is uncertainty in several areas of our lives,” Marc-Antoine Vachon, head of the Transat Chair of Tourism at UQAM, said in a public presentation in the city center on Wednesday. “People see travel as an essential component of the balance of their lives. It is part of a search for happiness.”
Thirty-four percent of travelers surveyed consider travel a priority expense. These people tend to travel more frequently and abroad more than others, Vachon said.
However, inflation is a key obstacle: 54 percent of respondents say the current economic climate acts as a barrier to travel. Still, many Quebecers are determined to travel. Eighty-four percent of people who say they are worried about the economy still consider it likely they will take a leisure trip in 2024, according to the survey.
To save money, 42 percent of travelers say they will be more flexible on their vacation dates, while 41 percent say they will spend more time shopping. Many join loyalty programs in a bid to spend less on travel.
“People are willing to make sacrifices to travel,” Vachon said. “But when people make sacrifices, their expectations are higher.”
Off-peak travel remains popular. 59 percent of people who participated in the survey say they traveled outside the usual June to September period last year.
The way people plan their vacations is changing, albeit slowly. Thirty-eight percent of respondents said they used an AI platform like ChatGPT in the past year. Only six percent said they specifically used AI to help them plan a trip.
Wellness tourism is growing faster than the travel industry itself, with 12 percent of respondents saying it represents their main reason for going on vacation. Wellness tourism includes activities such as meditation, physical exercise and contemplation of nature.
“We’re no longer in the ‘been there, done that’ stage where people go places just to take a selfie,” Vachon said. “We want traveling to do us good. “Mental health has taken on new importance since the pandemic.”
The enduring popularity of teleworking is fueling demand for employee meetings that promote the exchange of ideas or closer contacts between staff. Team building activities are especially popular in sectors such as banking or insurance.
Forty-one percent of teleworkers who responded to the survey said they had held off-site meetings in the past year. This is more than double that of people who spend most of their workweek in the office.
Extreme weather events, such as wildfires, are weighing on travel demand. According to the survey, ten per cent of Quebec travelers who vacationed in the province last year had to change their plans for weather-related reasons. Of those who made adjustments, 40 percent postponed their trip, 26 percent canceled it, 18 percent cut their vacation short and eight percent ended up going somewhere outside of Quebec.
Thirty-six percent of respondents said weather considerations will influence their vacation planning in 2024. Thirty-five percent say they will be more flexible with their dates because of the weather.
UQAM’s tourism chair surveyed 1,002 French-speaking Quebec residents aged 18 to 74 from October 30 to November 6. Respondents had to have spent at least one night away from home during the past two years. No margin of error was provided.