Canadians rarely consult federal travel advisories when flying abroad

Few Canadians ever consult federal travel advisories when flying abroad, says research by the Department of Foreign Affairs. Travelers were four times more likely to use Google than look up a government website.

“Participants tend to feel Government of Canada travel advisories are quite conservative and generally over-state any risks,” said the research Consular Programs And Policies. “There is also a perception they are vague, out of date and probably more useful to those traveling on business rather than pleasure. In general, participants felt it was difficult to find useful travel information from the government.”

Researchers also found Canadians are nearly twice more likely to buy travel insurance than they did a decade ago – 49 percent compared to 27 percent in 2008 – and almost never registered with Canadian missions when traveling abroad. “Even faced with the most extreme situations, many travelers’ first instinct would be to resolve the situation themselves,” wrote the Strategic Counsel.

“Relatively few participants have ever sought assistance from the Government of Canada while abroad,” said the report. “For those who did, experiences and satisfaction with the service received was mixed.” The department paid the Toronto consultant $149,992 for the research.

“The main objectives of the research were to determine what sources of information Canadians require to make safer and smarter travel decisions, and to explore how and when Canadians consume information to make travel decisions,” said the report.

Findings were based on 12 focus groups with business travelers, vacationers and travel agents in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montréal and Halifax, and random interviews with passengers at the nation’s three busiest airports in Vancouver, Toronto and Montréal. In other findings:

  • 29 percent book flights through travel agents;
  • 28 percent purchased tickets directly from airlines;
  • 27 percent used online travel vendors, typically Expedia.

Researchers also found frequency of travel to the U.S. is unchanged from 2008, at 72 percent of Canadians surveyed. Visits to Europe declined sharply in the past decade, from 56 percent of travelers to 40 percent.

Current federal advisories recommend that Canadians avoid all travel to Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Syria, South Sudan and Yemen. The public is urged to avoid non-essential regional travel to parts of Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan – and Hawaii, due to a hurricane watch.

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