November research shows who’s ready to visit Central Counties and when

As we start to clearly see the light at the end of this dark COVID-19 tunnel. We all want to know how soon our visitors will come back to our businesses and what type of visitors we can expect to see first.

In November, Central Counties and a group of Regional Tourism Organization counterparts in Ontario partnered with Abacus Data to conduct a survey in order to better understand Ontario’s travel sentiment during COVID-19. This survey is part two of an earlier Wave 1 (W1) survey conducted in June 2020. With both surveys completed by 2,000 Ontarians who travelled for leisure in 2019, these results are a valuable guiding tool when planning next steps to welcome visitors back to your business.

The good news is that when it is safe to travel again, your customers are looking forward to coming. Even better is that they’ll be exploring local, feeling most comfortable travelling within 100 kilometres of their homes. In addition to the findings for RTO6 and an aggregated summary for Ontario, we provided a snapshot analysis below of when people are planning to travel, as well as who they are.

When to Expect Them

Timing is everything and being able to plan ahead to welcome visitors back is key. When it comes to timelines for people feeling comfortable enough to travel again, it might be sooner than you expect, with more than 32 per cent feeling confident in the next two months.

In general people’s local travel timeline is as follows:

  • ASAP to 2 months: 32.5%
  • 3 to 6 months: 28.4%
  • Within 6 months: 61%

While these results are slightly lower than the first survey results, it is comforting to know that their desire to travel is very high vs “Not Interested in Travelling”. This indicates that during the pandemic, tourism is still important for them.

Also worth noting is that there has been a slight increase in people’s comfort in waiting for a vaccine first before travelling (5% from the W1 survey).

Below are three charts that review and compare the level of comfort in travel from both surveys.


Who’s Coming to Visit

So who can you expect to see first? Survey results identified three main traveller groups that are looking to start exploring sooner rather than later. They include:

  • Mature travellers – Pre-Boomer and Boomers adults over 55
  • Younger travellers – Millennial and Generation X adults between 20 and 44
  • Family travellers – Generation X and Boomer adults between 24 to 64 (includes millennials in early stages of this group)

Mature life-stage lead the traveller-pack 39 per cent looking to travel ASAP to 2 months when it is safe to do so. Followed by the Younger life-stage group at an average of 33 per cent, then by Families at 30 per cent.

Within the 3 to 6 month time frame there is a shift toward the Younger life-stage group being most comfortable to travel (29 per cent), followed by Family (27 per cent), and then Mature (25 per cent). This suggests that the Younger life-stage group is already travelling and will continue to venture throughout the region.

Chart 2

To help you identify and market to these lifestyle groups below are brief descriptions for each.

Mature Years:

  • Pre-Boomer and Boomers adults over 55
  • Mixture of older families and empty nesting couples
  • Nearing or in retirement; approximately 21 per cent are Francophones
  • 80 per cent live in single-detached houses, typically in established neighbourhoods
  • Mostly third-plus-generation Canadians, active in social issues and volunteer work
  • Enjoy the outdoors, going to parks, community/dinner theatre, bingo halls, and home shows, as well as riding ATVs, campers, snowmobiles, and power boats
  • Average interest in traditional media, favouring community newspapers and magazines that cover business and senior citizen issues – appreciate both articles and ads
  • Fans of TV soaps, talk shows and sports, radio stations that play oldies, classic rock and country music
  • Rarely online except to shop for travel deals and some sporting goods

For additional information about the Mature Years Life-stage, click here

Younger Years:

  • Millennial and Generation X adults between 20 and 44
  • 40 per cent are single, 33 per cent are couples with children under 10 years
  • Employed in white-collar and service sector, with millennials earning middle incomes from generally entry-level jobs
  • Rent in either low or high-rise buildings
  • Nearly 1/3 are foreign-born mainly from Asian countries
  • Enjoy cultural activities and urban nightlife, including going to bars, music festivals, ballets and operas, jazz and classical concerts, drama and comedy movies
  • Typically foodies; attend food and wine festivals; frequent ethnic restaurants
  • Main form of entertainment is TV, especially music videos, teen drama and late-night talk shows
  • Tech-savvy online consumers, especially for groceries, cosmetics and home furnishings
  • Online for work and play; includes banking, dating, downloading recipes, streaming TV/music, reading newspapers, and staying connected with friends through social media like Twitter and LinkedIn

For additional information about the Younger Years Life-stage, click here

Family Years:

  • Generation X and Boomer adults between 24 to 64 (includes millennials in early stages of this group)
  • Married couples with school age children
  • Most are homeowners with a mixture of single/semi-detached, rows and duplexes
  • Above-average educations and incomes
  • Enjoy activities include hockey, baseball and basketball; skiing/snowboarding, camping, and boating
  • Family outings include amusement parks, zoos, and children’s movies
  • Occasionally eat out at fast-food and casual restaurants
  • Shop in person and for clothing, shoes, toys, sporting goods
  • Online purchases are mainly, movies, music, clothing, groceries, and use mobile phones/tablets to download coupons, access news and podcasts, and visit social networks like Instagram and Snapchat
  • Media preferences include traditional and digital media, TV programs and magazines, and radio (news, mainstream top 40, and alternative rock)

For additional information about the Family Years Life-stage, click here

To assist you further with target marketing, we have identified specific Forward Sortation Areas (FSAs) within and outside of Central Counties’ boundary that have a high count of Younger (click here), Mature (click here), Family (click here) life-stage groups for your geo-tagging marketing.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate in contacting Tom at


Central Counties is located North of Toronto


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Chuck Thibeault

Executive Director, Chuck Thibeault