Top 5 Destinations for Albertans in 2017


* Canada, the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean and U.K. most popular in 2017

* Family and sun are key travel motivators

* Vacation spending isn't suffering due to the economy

Looks like Dorothy was right all along: there’s no place like home.

According to the AMA 2017 Travel Intentions Survey results, released today, of the three quarters of Albertans planning to travel in 2017, 68 per cent intend to do so right here in Canada. The United States trails at a distant second, making the list for 48 per cent of travelers, followed by Mexico, the Caribbean and U.K. at 19 per cent, 16 per cent and eight per cent, respectively.

“It’s too early to know what effect, if any, changes in the U.S. could have on people’s travel plans. What’s very obvious, however, is that Canadian holidays are top of mind for Albertans,” says Nikola Berube, Director of Sales for AMA Travel. “In 2016, domestic hotspots like Jasper and Banff were sold out nearly the entire summer, and we’re already seeing the same trend for 2017. That’s why we’re encouraging everyone to book early for destinations like National Parks, Victoria, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax.”

Both the New York Times and Lonely Planet placed Canada at the top of their lists of places to visit in 2017. The Times waxed poetic about our “cosmopolitan cities and barely explored natural wonders,” while Lonely Planet praised our “impeccable politeness,” fusion food scene, and “mysteriously underrated wine.”

For Albertans, however, travel this year will be primarily motivated by two factors: weather and loved ones.

“Quality family time” was second only to “get some sun” as a 2017 travel influence: 41 per cent of respondents versus 46 per cent. And among younger Albertans, family time was the number one influence (50 per cent for those under 35 and 48 per cent for those aged 35 to 44). Accordingly, 76 per cent of Albertans plan to travel with a partner or spouse, 24 per cent with their kids, and 23 per cent with extended family.

Also striking? The vast majority of Albertans plan to spend either the same amount (49 per cent) or more (25 per cent) than last year on holiday travel. Forty-six per cent of Alberta travelers plan to spend between $1,000 and $3,000 per person on 2017 vacations. And among those 55 and older, nearly half plan to spend $3,000 or more per person.

AMA also asked Albertans about Canada’s 150th and found that 46 per cent of people plan to travel outside their city of residence for the country’s anniversary celebrations. The top draws are National Parks (31 per cent), followed by B.C. (14 per cent), Ottawa (10 per cent), the Maritimes (eight per cent) and “other parts of Alberta” (seven per cent).

Finally, we took a peek inside Albertans’ suitcases and found a few surprises. For instance, 13 per cent of people pack their own pillow; 54 per cent bring a camera – separate from the 76 per cent of people who bring smartphones; fully 28 per cent pack hand sanitizer; six per cent bring an extra suitcase; and 63 per cent never leave home without their AMA membership card – though we completely understand that one!

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The 1,795-person survey was conducted online with AMA members between Jan 10 and Jan 20, 2017. To request an interview, please contact the Newsroom at 1-888-960-NEWS or ama.newsroom@ama.ab.ca