Travel Activities and Motivations Survey

A profile of travellers looking for accessible travel destinations

Full report available in pdf format

July 2007
Executive summary

In Canada, there were 1.2 million travellers (or 5.9% of all Canadian travellers) who indicated that an accessible travel destination was highly important to them when choosing a destination for an out-of-town pleasure or vacation trip. Another 3.2 million Canadian travellers (or 15.5%) indicated that this consideration was somewhat important to them in choosing their travel destination.

In the U.S., 16.1 million travellers (or 9.2% of all American travellers) indicated that an accessible travel destination was highly important to them when choosing a destination while another 32.5 million (or 18.4%) indicated it was somewhat important to them.

On average, Canadian and American travellers looking for accessible destinations are taking slightly fewer trips than other travellers.

The incidence of travel by those looking for accessible destinations is similar or a little lower than other travellers to destinations within their home country, but noticeably lower than other travellers outside of North America.

Travellers who are looking for accessible travel destinations participate in a wide variety of activities while travelling, and though their participation rates are notably lower in some instances (e.g. hiking and skiing), they have similar or higher participation rates in almost half of the activities included in the survey.

There is, however, notable consistency among the most popular activities reported by travellers who are looking for accessible destinations and other travellers. In fact, of the top 25 activities listed by Canadian travellers who are looking for accessible destinations, only 4 do not factor on the list of other Canadian travellers, while of the top 25 activities listed by American travellers who are looking for accessible destinations, only 3 are not on the list of top 25 activities of other American travellers.

There are a number of individual activities which are noticeably more or less popular among travellers looking for accessible travel destinations compared to other travellers. Canadian travellers looking for accessible travel destinations:

  • Have higher incidences than other travellers of attending horse races and competitions; attending aboriginal festivals; playing team sports like football and bowling; and participating in amateur tournaments and competitions other than sports
  • Are much less likely than other travellers, however, to participate in active outdoor pursuits such as ocean snorkelling, ocean or freshwater kayaking/canoeing, hiking and skiing

American travellers looking for accessible travel destinations:

  • Have much higher incidences than other travellers of attending comedy festivals; attending aboriginal festivals and outdoor adventure/sports activities; and going to the circus
  • Are much less likely than other travellers, however, to participate in active outdoor pursuits such as skiing, ocean snorkelling, freshwater kayaking/canoeing, hiking and golfing

Travellers looking for accessible travel destinations reported many of the same trip motivators as did other travellers. Whereas there were similarities in terms of ‘traditional' vacation trip activities such as visiting historic sites, natural wonders and nature parks, camping and going to amusement parks and casinos, there were also a number of trip motivators which emerged as notably more or less important among travellers looking for accessible travel destinations.

Looking at the 25 most popular activities which acted as trip motivators, Canadian travellers looking for accessible travel destinations:

  • Reported shopping for clothes/shoes/jewellery, sunbathing/ sitting on a beach and fresh water fishing as their top three activities which were trip motivator
  • Mentioned the following activities more frequently than other travellers à shopping for clothes/shoes/ jewellery, visiting amusement parks, going to casinos, eating at local restaurants, going to the zoo, seeing live theatre and staying at private campgrounds
  • Mentioned the following activities less frequently than other travellers à sunbathing, swimming in oceans and strolling around a city to observe buildings and architecture

Looking at the 25 most popular activities which acted as trip motivators, American travellers looking for accessible travel destinations:

  • Reported visiting amusement parks, going to casinos and eating in local restaurants as their top three activities which were trip motivators
  • Mentioned the following activities more frequently than other travellers à going to casinos, eating at local restaurants, shopping for clothes/shoes/ jewellery, fresh water fishing and visiting aquariums and zoos
  • Mentioned the following activities less frequently than other travellers à sunbathing / sitting on a beach or swimming in the ocean

Travellers looking for accessible travel destinations appear to seek a greater number of benefits from their travel experiences than do other travellers. Their incidence of rating benefits as highly important was higher than other travellers for each of the benefits presented in the survey, except for ‘Taking a break from the day-to-day environment' — where their incidence of rating it as highly important was just slightly lower than other travellers.

The four most frequently mentioned benefits sought — to relax and relieve stress, enrich relationship with spouse/children, take a break from the day-to-day environment and create lasting memories were constant among travellers looking for accessible travel destinations and other travellers in both the Canadian and American markets.

The top benefits which were noticeably more important to travellers looking for accessible travel destinations than other travellers were:

  • To have stories to share back at home or something interesting to talk about
  • To be challenged physically / to feel physically energized
  • To be pampered
  • To stimulate the mind/ / be intellectually challenged

Travellers looking for accessible travel destinations appear to consider a greater number of factors in their choice of travel destinations than do other travellers. Their incidence of rating each of the considerations listed on the survey as highly important was markedly higher than other travellers in all cases, except for ‘Availability of mid range accommodation' — where their incidence of rating it as highly important was only marginally higher than other travellers.

Travellers looking for accessible travel destinations and other travellers share the same four top considerations when choosing a travel destination — feeling safe at the destination, no health concerns at the destination, convenient access by car and lots of things for adults to see and do. These four considerations were consistent for travellers in both the Canadian and American markets, though more American travellers — both those looking for accessible travel destinations and others — rated ‘Convenient access by car' as highly important than ‘No health concerns at the destination'.

The top considerations which were noticeably more important to Canadian travellers looking for accessible travel destinations than other Canadian travellers were:

  • Being familiar with the culture and language of the destination
  • Convenient access by train/bus
  • Lots of things for children to see and do
  • Having friends and family who live there

Meanwhile, American travellers looking for accessible travel destinations differed somewhat from their Canadian counterparts in terms of considerations which were more important to them than other travellers:

  • Convenient access by train/bus
  • Being at a place that is very different , culturally, than yours
  • Having friends and family who live there
  • Great shopping opportunities

Finally, in looking at the demographic profiles of Canadian and American travellers looking for accessible travel destinations, it can be seen that the segment is generally older than other travellers, less likely to have children under 18 living at home, has lower levels of education and has lower household incomes than other travellers.