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Average price for gasoline in Canada tops $2 a litre for first time

What does that mean for long weekend travel?
gas station sign with dollar sign in clouds

Gasoline prices are showing no signs of letting up as the average price in Canada tops $2 a litre for the first time, upping the appeal of getaway spots closer to home.

Natural Resources Canada says the average price across the country for regular gasoline hit $2.06 per litre on Monday for an all-time high.

The average was a nine-cent jump from the $1.97 per litre record set last week, and is up about 30 cents a litre since mid-April.

Prices averaged about $2.34 a litre in Vancouver on Monday, while in Toronto the average was almost $2.09 per litre. Edmonton, in contrast, averaged just under $1.69 per litre.

Gasoline prices have been elevated since late February when oil spiked to around US$100 a barrel after Russia invaded Ukraine, while the price jumped to over US$110 per barrel last week.

Prices have also been spiking more recently as the reopening of the economy, and the start of the busy travel season, have led to high demand for gasoline that refiners have limited capacity to meet.

With long road trips costlier than ever, Canadians are eyeing more regional destinations as tourism operators double down on the domestic market.

Vancouver-based Discover Canada Tours has ramped up its one-day tour offerings in British Columbia.

"We're expanding to North Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. So for people that may have come we're taking them a little further afield. And then also Vancouver, Victoria _ those are tours that we didn't run before,'' said marketing manager Elyse Mailhot.

Beth Potter, head of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, says some vacationers are opting for camping, hiking and cycling excursions that stick fairly close to home as fuel costs and inflation loom large.

"They're budget friendly,'' she said. "I mean, nobody can go a day without commenting on the price of gas.''

Adding to the pocketbook strain is the ballooning price of diesel, which fuels most semi trucks and factors into the cost of consumer goods.

Diesel's average price rose to $2.27 per litre Monday, a 54% jump from $147.1 per litre at the start of the year, according to Natural Resources Canada.

Canada remains the top destination for Canadians in 2022, but even more so than in pre-pandemic years, said Association of Canadian Travel Agencies president Wendy Paradis.

While international bookings are also up relative to the past two years _ though still below 2019 numbers - those willing to hop on a flight may think twice about straying too far from home, partly due to cost.

"This may be the year that Canadians do plan on travelling in Canada,'' Paradis said, citing friends and family and ongoing wariness of pandemic trips abroad as other key reasons.

Ontario residents can capitalize on the hefty fuel prices by vacationing within the province to claim a new tax credit equal to 20% of eligible accommodation expenses of up to $1,000 as an individual, or $2,000 for a family.

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