New CSA President Talks Term Priorities, Snowbird Impact, Travel Insurance and More
Karen Huestis recently became the president of the Canadian Snowbird Association (CSA). In her message to CSA members published through CSANEWs, CSA’s quarterly magazine, she expressed how honoured she was at the opportunity to undertake such a role.
The organization has championed the rights of travelling Canadians for 25 years now. As the new president, she is not only keen to re-commit to the snowbird cause but she is also dedicating her commitment to addressing challenges that come with such a position to every CSA member across Canada and the United States.
Much has been accomplished in the last decades and new challenges await. However, as long as the recently elected board of directors, in cooperation with CSA employees and benefit partners, work together as a team and expand on existing achievements, challenges of any shape or measure will be met.
The new president also highlighted the need to increase CSA membership. She said this was crucial to any organization. Having a large, committed membership is necessary for lobbying purposes. Organizations can better articulate their interests or concerns to governments when they have the numbers. This will be one of CSA’s main priorities during Ms. Huestis’ term.
The president expressed her gratitude to Bob Slack and his wife for their important contributions to the organization in the last seven years. They have represented the CSA as well as any ambassador.
Huestis’ first stop after assuming the presidency was the yearly Snowbird Extravaganza, which was held in Lakeland, Florida. Following the event, she and her husband stopped by the Winter Texans’ Snowbird Extravaganza at McAllen, Texas. Thereafter, she headed to the annual Canadian Snowbird Celebration at Mesa, Arizona. The Canadian crowd was impressive and hundreds of new memberships were sold during the event despite concerns about the Canadian dollar’s decreasing value.
After Arizona, Huestis and her team set off for the Winter Information Meeting tour – another yearly event organized by the association. The 2017 tour had stops in Sahuarita, Arizona, followed by meet-ups in California. The team returned to Florida and made stops in five more locations: Punta Gorda, Bradenton, Immokalee, Dania Beach and Dunedin.
The president thanked more key individuals such as the tour and extravaganza volunteers and everyone who took some time off their schedules to attend the shows organized by the CSA. Had it not been for everyone’s support, none of the events would have been possible. She also thanked Medipac Travel Insurance partners for assisting in the organization and contributing to the success of such events.
At the Lakeland extravaganza, CSA officially released the sixth edition of the Canadian Travellers’ Report Card. Regular readers of this publication are aware that in the last few years the CSA has had several achievements in the area of government relations. Despite these policy victories, there is still a list of battles to be fought including issues on travel insurance and reimbursement rates in the provinces. To know whether your federal and provincial governments are exerting effort to safeguard your travel rights, kindly visit www.snowbirds.org and download a copy of the report card.
In March of this year, Ms. Huestis went to Miami and met the newly appointed Canadian ambassador to the United States, Mr. David MacNaughton. The meeting was called so that the latter could better appreciate the positive impact of Canadian travellers on the economy of Florida. Last year, 4.2 million Canadians visited Florida with expenditures amounting to approximately $5.1 billion. Without a doubt, Canadian tourists occupy the largest chunk in Florida’s tourism market.
In this regard, it is important to point out that as the representative of Canadians travelling, working and investing in the United States, the ambassador’s priorities are the security of the Canada-United States border, the easy transport of goods and the peaceful migration of Canadians to and from the country. The meeting took place upon his request and within four days after Ambassador MacNaughton introduced his credentials to the new administration. This alone clearly indicated his sincerity to address the concerns of the organization. Throughout this year, further engagements with the ambassador are to be expected – a demonstration of Western snowbirds’ strong impact on their winter economies.
First-time enrolments for and overall use of the Snowbird Currency Exchange Program have both experienced significant surges. This program is one of CSA’s most beneficial offerings. The new president said she looks forward to “rolling up” her sleeves to do some hard and results-driven work on behalf of CSA members in the next few years. She also wished snowbirds a safe journey home to Canada.