Canadians driving to US airports to fly to avoid taxes

Thursday, March 3, 2011, 20:30 by Aviation Correspondent

Canadians are increasingly choosing to drive to US airports and fly to their favorite destinations, in a bid to stay clear of high domestic taxes.

A Hotel Association of Canada conducted a survey regarding this and found that one in five Canadians made this decision. According to the travel intention survey conducted by them, the number of people crossing the border to catch a flight rose 3% from 18% in 2009. The online survey was conducted in January 2011 among 1,627 “likely travelers”.

The Hotel Association has said that, soon, a third of the travelers could look at boarding from US as a better alternative. In that case, domestic businesses such as hotels and airlines could suffer billions in losses.

The Hotel Association has added that the government needs to take necessary steps like reducing airport and fuel taxes, security surcharges and airport rents. Such proposals have been submitted long back by the travel industry. Delay in taking actions could result in the government and industry loosing revenue, it is being forecast.

The Canadian citizens can’t be blamed, though. For instance, Toronto’s Pearson International Airport has some of the most expensive taxes in the world. That makes the airport near Buffalo, NY- a two-hour drive away – better choice for the travelers.

Likewise, people from Ottawa are heading to Syracuse, NY to fly. Plattsburgh International Airport in New York tags itself as “Montreal’s U.S. Airport.”, while Bellingham and Seattle airports in Washington are overshadowing Vancouver.

Losses have been mounting and it has become a serious cause of concern for Canada. Internet customers have the option to choose the best rates and book and drive to airports in the US. The survey reports that 73 per cent of leisure and 86 per cent of business travelers research online while mobiles were used by 40 per cent of the people to check the weather, 27 per cent to check flight timings, 19 per cent to book hotels and 11 per cent used it to book travel tickets.

The survey also found out that an encouraging 83 per cent of Canadians plan to take a vacation in 2011, from last year’s 78 per cent.

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