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CHEAP FARES OPEN UP CANADA'S WIDE OPEN SPACES.

Head for the wide open spaces of the emptiest country in the world or shop till you drop at the biggest shopping mall on earth.

These are two of the options as lines are drawn for a lively price war on packages to Canada this summer.

The battle should follow the launch of scheduled services by Zoom Airlines out of Gatwick and Glasgow to six destinations from the first week in May. With one-way fares from pounds 89 and returns from around pounds 170 it should be a lively skirmish.

Flying into Toronto, Halifax, Ottawa, Vancouver and Calgary, plus a Gatwick service into Edmonton with its 800-store shopping centre, Zoom flights are all direct except Gatwick-Toronto, (via Halifax or Ottawa), and Gatwick-Vancouver, (via Calgary or Edmonton), for travel before October 31.

Canadian Affair, a rival operator using Thomas Cook scheduled flights from Gatwick, Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester, adds Edinburgh this year. British Airways has trimmed fares to Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto on travel before mid-June.

One region to benefit is Alberta famed for the Rocky Mountains, the Calgary Stampede in July and a foothills region featured in the film Legends of the Fall. Northern Alberta also 280 golf courses.

Harrow-based operator Travelpack links with Zoom to offer three-night breaks, (Toronto), from pounds 399; six and seven night stays from pounds 475 and fly drives from five days upwards from pounds 395. Fourteen-night rail packages from pounds 1,137 include two days on the celebrated Rocky Mountaineer.

Virgin, committed to a major expansion of its winter programme in 2004/5, offers a new range of dest-inations, including a Northern Lights experience and a ski safari between Banff and Jasper.

INFORMATION: Zoom, (0870 240 0055); Canadian Affair, (0207 616 9999); Virgin, (0870 000 0870); Travelpack, (0870 121 2020); Travelpack Flight Only Dept, (0870 121 2100); Alberta Tourist Office brochure hotline, (0906 871 5000, premium line rate 60p per minute, pack distributed free of charge). Also visit www.travelalberta.com).
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Mar 20, 2004
Words:327
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