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The signs are there.

At first it looked like it was going to be a glorious season for winter travel from Canada to our favourite southern destinations. Wedding and corporate groups were booking early, as they must if they want to secure seats on the same flights for their guests. And a small sigh of relief was heaved from the collective chests of the heads of the major tour companies.

With the Canadian dollar strong prices in the system were not higher in most cases than last year. Even the high fuel prices and the attendant surcharges still kept the end price reasonable.

But the problem, if it emerges, started with the belief that it would be a good year so flights and seats were added to the inventory of many of the destinations they serve.

Then, with rising fuel prices and a crumbling U.S. economy, came fears for our own economy which is so interlaced with that of our southern neighbours.

Bookings have slowed but it will not be until October that we will know if there is a problem. Signature Vacations may have beat everyone to the punch with a unique program that essentially offers sale pricing at the start of the season with a promise that if that specific property goes on sale for less you can get your money back to equal the sale price.

It is not on all their product but it does cover a significant number of properties at most of their destinations. The properties themselves tend to be of the three and four star categories but they are excellent choices nevertheless.

As the weeks progress I will report how the year is filling and what we as consumers can expect.