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2012 BMO Holiday Travel Outlook: Majority of Canadians Heading Out of Town This Holiday Season

- Six out of 10 Canadians are planning a vacation during the upcoming holidays

TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 12/16/12 -- A strong Canadian dollar and a relatively stable economy has fuelled Canadians' desire to get away this coming holiday season. According to the 2012 BMO Holiday Travel Outlook released today, six out of 10 Canadians (60 per cent) say they expect to travel over the winter holidays.

Furthermore, the report found:


--  Canadians plan to spend an average of $563 on travel during the holiday
    season this year 
--  While more than one-third (39 per cent) will travel within their home
    province, one-in-five (19 per cent) plan to leave the country over the
    holidays 
--  The most popular destination outside of Canada will be the United
    States, with 13 per cent of Canadians heading south of the border 
--  Those in Atlantic Canada are the most likely to travel over the holidays
    (80 per cent), with those in Quebec the least likely to travel (41 per
    cent) 
--  Travelers will be younger, with almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of
    Canadians under 30 planning to travel compared to 42 per cent of those
    65 and over 

The report also revealed the top travel destinations among Canadians this holiday season, which include:


----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Within home province                                                     39%
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Within Canada                                                            12%
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
U.S.A.                                                                   13%
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mexico                                                                    3%
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Other overseas destinations                                               8%
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

"The holiday season can be expensive for many Canadians, especially for those who plan to travel during that time," said Nick Mastromarco, Director, BMO Bank of Montreal. "Affordability remains an important factor when deciding on an appropriate vacation destination, and reward programs provide a practical and convenient way for more Canadians to take advantage of a broad array of redemption options, and upgrade their vacation experience without breaking the budget."

To help fund their travel plans, the report revealed that Canadians' use of reward points is on the rise. Two out of 10 Canadians (21 per cent) plan to travel on reward points this year, up seven per cent over last year.

To make travel more affordable this holiday season, BMO offers Canadians the following tips that will stretch their vacation travel dollars so they can get away sooner:

- Redeem points to offset vacation costs: A flexible loyalty program, such as the BMO Rewards or the AIR MILES Reward Program, lets you redeem reward currency for flights, cruises and other package holidays, train travel, hotel stays, passes to local attractions and redeem for instant savings off your fuel purchases. With BMO Rewards, if you don't have enough points to redeem for your trip, you can use what you have and then "top-up" with cash - for any amount.

- Use the credit card's travel insurance: Premium cards typically offer insurance, among other benefits. Bank of Montreal's BMO Rewards World Elite credit card provides trip interruption and/or cancellation insurance, travel medical insurance, rental car collision damage waiver coverage and other benefits such as airport VIP lounge passes and concierge service. These benefits can substantially reduce travel costs. Know and use the card features and benefits. When in doubt, call the bank's contact centre or check online for confirmation.

- Shop around for the best rewards program: Look at the value and flexibility of the program and whether it offers other perks such as travel, merchandise, cash back, financial products or charitable donation options. For example, with BMO AIR MILES World credit card customers earn 1 AIR MILES reward mile for every $15 they spend using the card and get an exclusive 25 per cent discount on the number of reward miles required to book AIR MILES flights.

- Stick to one loyalty program: Consolidate all purchases on a single card to accumulate rewards faster and reach your travel destination goal sooner. Doing this also makes it easier to track and monitor your spending.

The survey results cited above are from an online survey conducted by Pollara with a random sample of 1,000 Canadians 18 years of age and over between October 11 and October 16, 2012. A probability sample of this size would yield results accurate to +/- 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $525 billion as at October 31, 2012, and more than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.

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