Van­cou­ver’s spiffy air­port cracks world’s Top 10

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - TRAVEL -

IN­BOUND or out­bound, the tourist in­dus­try is ever fas­ci­nat­ing and evolv­ing. This week’s ques­tions fo­cus on the emerg­ing changes that at­tract us, com­fort us, or help strengthen our econ­omy right here at home.

QUES­TION: I travel ex­ten­sively on busi­ness. In vis­it­ing the ma­jor air­ports around the world I can’t be­lieve how they have turned into ma­jor shop­ping and en­ter­tain­ment cen­tres.

I never buy any­thing from these shops, but am cu­ri­ous whether these new con­cept air­ports are suc­cess­ful?

AN­SWER: Ap­par­ently they are. A short while ago Sky­trax, a in­ter­na­tional com­pany ranked the sur­vey re­sults from al­most 13 mil­lion pas­sen­gers from 410 air­ports around the world to try and find out which air­ports were deemed the best. The sur­vey re­sults were based on vis­i­tor sat­is­fac­tion in cri­te­ria that in­cluded ser­vice, shop­ping and din­ing op­tions.

It’s not sur­pris­ing that some of the big­gest air­ports in the world placed at the top of the list given their abil­ity to of­fer the widest range of ser­vice op­tions be­cause of their size alone.

Sin­ga­pore’s Changi Air­port was ranked the high­est in the sur­veys, fol­lowed by the In­cheon In­ter­na­tional Air­port, Mu­nich Air­port, Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional Air­port, Haneda In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Tokyo and Am­s­ter­dam’s Schiphol Air­port. Where do Cana­dian air­ports rank? We should be proud that the Van­cou­ver In­ter­na­tional Air­port was ranked ninth in the world, a def­i­nite achieve­ment con­sid­er­ing some of the new su­per-sized air­ports that have been un­veiled over the past few years. It is note­wor­thy that this air­port was the only one in North Amer­ica to achieve a global top 10 rank­ing. It has achieved that po­si­tion for each of the last five years in spite of new grandiose fa­cil­i­ties that have opened in the cat­e­gory.

This au­to­mat­i­cally put Van­cou­ver In­ter­na­tional Air­port at the top in North Amer­i­can Rank­ings. Other Cana­dian air­ports also did well.

Toronto’s Pear­son Air­port was fifth in the North Amer­i­can rank­ing. It was not just the big air­ports that were rec­og­nized.

Halifax’s Stan­field Air­port ranked sev­enth in North Amer­ica, a no­table achieve­ment for one of our smaller city’s air­ports.

QUES­TION: I took my first river cruise last year. My per­cep­tion is that most of the people were older than your nor­mal trav­eler.

Is there some truth to my ob­ser­va­tion? AN­SWER: Yes there is. While the aver­age age of river cruise pas­sen­gers is 63, the na­ture and length of the selected cruise changes that aver­age sig­nif­i­cantly.

On longer river cruise itin­er­ar­ies the aver­age age is even higher, while on short one week itin­er­ar­ies it is sig­nif­i­cantly lower. Here even fam­i­lies are form­ing a grow­ing per­cent­age of the mar­ket.

River cruise in­dus­try spokes­peo­ple sug­gest it is the gen­tler na­ture of this style of travel that not only ap­peals to a some­what older age de­mo­graphic, but can ex­tend a se­niors travel op­tions by ten years.

Ev­ery day there is an ex­cur­sion in­cluded. It is ex­tremely easy to get around the en­tire cruise ship, and the smaller venues make for a much more in­ti­mate en­vi­ron­ment to meet and so­cial­ize.

This pop­u­lar­ity is why the book­ing win­dow for river cruis­ing is of­ten up to a year in ad­vance. An advertisement in this news­pa­per just two weeks ago was pro­mot­ing cruises, not for this year but for the in­ter­est­ing op­tions be­ing un­veiled now for 2015.

Even with the launch of sev­eral new ships each year, de­mand is still out­strip­ping sup­ply. The big­gest river cruise oper­a­tors are putting in rush or­ders to try and add as many new ves­sels into the river wa­ters as quickly as pos­si­ble.

With all of this growth there are now voices ex­press­ing con­cern about the eco­log­i­cal pres­sures that might af­fect the qual­ity of the river wa­ters from more and more ships pass­ing each other by day and night.

Where the high­est de­mand is on Euro­pean rivers, al­ready the var­i­ous brands are pass­ing by each other with con­stant reg­u­lar­ity.

For­tu­nately river ships do not leave be­hind the same oil and ef­flu­ent old style ocean cruise ships did.

QUES­TION: I keep read­ing about the growth in num­bers of Chi­nese tourists com­ing to Canada and other na­tions.

I don’t see them when I go to the places that would be seen as tourist at­trac­tions here in Win­nipeg. Is this re­ally a big mar­ket, and when will we see them here?

AN­SWER: Over 83 mil­lion Chi­nese tourists are now trav­el­ling ev­ery year, and ac­cord­ing to David Gold­stein, pres­i­dent of the Tourism In­dus­try of Canada (TIAC), Canada is not get­ting any­where near our fair share. Those that are com­ing are still choos­ing to take in our ma­jor city at­trac­tions like Van­cou­ver, Toronto, and Mon­treal or our nat­u­ral at­trac­tions in Banff and Ni­a­gara Falls.

The United States has been far­ing quite bet­ter and projects that by 2018, Chi­nese vis­i­tors will be­come their num­ber one over­seas mar­ket, over­step­ping their tra­di­tional solid mar­kets of Great Bri­tain, Ja­pan and Ger­many.

China al­ready is the heav­i­est spend­ing mar­ket glob­ally ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions World Tourism Or­ga­ni­za­tion, with tourism ex­pen­di­tures in ex­cess of $ Cdn. 112 bil­lion.

Canada rec­og­nizes the need to pur­sue this mar­ket more ag­gres­sively. While it may be some time be­fore Man­i­toba hits the travel radar of these new world ex­plor­ers, be as­sured sooner or later we will get our fair share of those who de­cide to visit Canada.

For­ward your travel ques­tions to askjour­neys@jour­neystravel.com Ron Prad­inuk is pres­i­dent of Jour­neys Travel & Leisure Su­perCen­tre and can be heard

Sun­days at noon on CJOB. Pre­vi­ous col­umns and tips can be found on www. jour­neystrav­el­gear.com or read Ron’s travel blog at www.that­trav­el­guy.ca

RON PRAD­INUK / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS

Chi­nese tourists visit ma­jor Cana­dian cities and our top nat­u­ral at­trac­tions like Ni­a­gara Falls, but not in great num­bers.

RON PRAD­INUK ASK JOUR­NEYS

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