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The Great Escape: RBC Poll Finds Canadians Choose Pyramids, Honolulu and Europe's Great Cities as Top Dream Vacations

Majority of Canadians who booked a trip with reward points went on a family vacation

TORONTO, November 2, 2011 — The ancient Pyramids (26 per cent) lead the list of popular destinations that Canadians would choose if they could only visit one city and one landmark, according to a recent RBC Rewards survey.

Honolulu (13 per cent) was the top choice among most reward travellers, given one city in the world to visit. Europe held the most allure among continents, with four of the top 10 destinations that Canadians would visit if they could only choose one city, with Paris (11 per cent), Rome (10 per cent), London (nine per cent) and Madrid (three per cent) leading the way.

"Canadians prefer historic landmarks when looking at the vacation of their dreams, and the right rewards program can make that a reality," said Donna Lue-Atkinson, vice-president of Global Loyalty Programs and Rewards, RBC. "Travel purchases using RBC Rewards points are on the rise, indicating that Canadians still place a high priority on vacations, even in an uncertain economic climate. This suggests that Canadians are looking to their loyalty programs to provide affordable family vacations."

The poll found that family vacations were the most popular type of redemption (58 per cent) for Canadians who used reward points to redeem a trip for themselves, spouse or family. Nearly a quarter of Canadians have postponed a vacation (24 per cent), according to an RBC study earlier in the fall, because of their caution around their personal debt loads. Those with children were even more likely to change their vacation plans (30 per cent).

"Using your rewards card for travel is a simple way to defray vacation expenses as family budgets tighten and affordability concerns arise," said Lue-Atkinson. "By applying your rewards card for everyday purchases, you can watch your grocery bill or movie tickets turn into plane tickets, a hotel stay or an exciting adventure."

The RBC Rewards survey revealed that Canadians are avid collectors of reward points, as six-in-10 (58 per cent) earn travel rewards towards flights and hotels, but an almost equal number (57 per cent) say they find limits on their loyalty programs to be frustrating.

A majority of reward cardholders say having a program with points that don't expire (96 per cent), that is easy to understand with minimal restrictions (93 per cent) and the ability to earn rewards more quickly (93 per cent) are important when choosing a rewards program.

Lue-Atkinson offers the following additional tips to earn points faster:

  • Stick to one program - Make sure to focus on one or two reward programs you really believe in and align your spending accordingly. Focusing on just one program will allow you to collect points faster while consolidating your expenses into one monthly statement. Look for programs that make booking as easy and convenient as using cash.

  • Make it automatic - Paying monthly expenses such as insurance premiums, fitness memberships and utility bills, with your rewards credit card can help you automatically rack up points and simplify your finances.

  • Look for deals and extras - Take advantage of bonus offers and promotions to make sure that you're getting the most value out of your rewards credit card. Special enrolment offers and seasonal airline partnerships can give you bonus points on top of what you normally collect. Some cards also offer travel insurance protection, which means extra savings when planning a vacation.

Poll Highlights

  • Regional and gender breakdown of which cities Canadians would choose to visit, given only one choice:
    • Men and women were fairly even on most destinations, with women outpacing men on Paris and Honolulu as their top choices (women: 13 per cent and 13 per cent, men: nine per cent and 12 per cent, respectively).
    • Vancouver was the only Canadian city to make the top ten and Atlantic Canadians were the most interested in heading out to Western Canada (seven per cent).


  • Regional breakdown of top tourist destinations Canadians would choose to visit, given only one choice, shows:
    • More than a quarter of survey respondents would visit the Great Pyramids, with Ontarians above the national average at 29 per cent.
    • Quebec respondents favoured Disneyworld more than any other region at 22 per cent.
    • Albertans were most interested in seeing the Statue of Liberty at seven per cent.
    • Atlantic Canadians (18 per cent) were the most interested in the Eiffel Tower, while British Columbians (11 per cent) would visit the Acropolis.


  • Gender breakdown of top tourist destinations Canadians would choose to visit shows:
    • Men were more drawn to the Great Pyramids (28 per cent, women: 25 per cent) and the Great Wall of China (17 per cent, women: 12 per cent).
    • Women preferred Disneyworld (18 per cent, men: 12 per cent), the Eiffel Tower (14 per cent, men: 10 per cent), and the Taj Mahal (eight per cent, men: five per cent).

About the RBC Rewards Travel Survey
The online survey of 1,507 reward or loyalty card holders was conducted by Ipsos Reid. Data was collected from September 1 to 7, 2011. An unweighted probability sample of this size, with 100 per cent response rate, would have an estimated margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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For further information contact:

Ka Yan Ng, RBC Communications, (416) 974-1794
Matt Gierasimczuk, RBC Communications, (416) 974-2124