Canadian travel consumers retain a choice

Signature and Sunquest will remain separate companies, to the apparent benefit of Canadian vacationers. After a 16-week investigation, the European Commission has announced that it will not allow the British holiday company Airtours to acquire First Choice Holidays, due to anti-competition concerns.

The significance of this decision in Canada is that this effectively prevents the prospective common ownership of two of Canada’s three largest tour operators. Airtours owns Sunquest/Alba and First Choice owns Signature Vacations. Signature also owns Encore Cruises.

“This is excellent news, not only for the Signature group, but also for the Canadian leisure traveller,” says John MacNeill, president of Signature. “By disallowing the hostile bid, the European Commission has ensured that the Canadian holiday market will remain as competitive as ever — which in turn is good news for vacationers. This will allow Signature to focus on selling its vacations and to pursue our longer term strategies unimpeded.”

It’s obvious that the people at Signature are happy about the decision, but with the recent spate of amalgamations and potential take-overs in the travel business (Canadian a Air Canada come to mind) it’s also good news for the travel consumer. The Canadian market could use even more competition rather than less, and it’s a sure bet that competition between travel operators can only result in better service and lower prices for the travelling public. Competition has a way of keeping everybody on their toes.