Weakened loonie hurting winter travel plans for Canadians

TORONTO - Maureen Dennis and her family had high hopes of heading abroad for March Break, but the weakened Canadian dollar has put plans for a sun-soaked getaway on ice.

See Full Article

"We were just hoping to go somewhere warm.... But everywhere that is warm has been affected by the dollar," said Dennis, founder of WeeWelcome.ca.

"It's an expensive time to go away," added the Toronto-based parenting expert, whose four children range in age from four to 12.

"It is a time that a lot of parents try to make the most of, but it is extra painful when you put the exchange rate on the dollar."

Canadian families and snowbirds who typically flock south during the winter are finding their wings clipped due to the falling loonie.

The Canadian dollar is currently hovering in the 72 cents US range, but has traded at nearly 13-year lows in recent weeks due to several factors, including the diminishing value of major commodities and slow economic growth.

Paul Phipps, chief marketing officer with Visit Florida, said the state saw a slight slowdown in Canadian travel last year, down about 1.5 per cent. But with estimates showing more than 700,000 Canadians own homes in Florida, he expects many will still make the trip while being more mindful of their spending habits.

"They may come here and not stay as long, or they'll come here and eat in more and not eat out. It may affect their shopping decisions," said Phipps, who said Canadians are the top international travellers in every region of the state.

Viji Bahadur and her family will be spending March Break in Miami with relatives. But their travel plans almost took a U-turn when flights from Toronto proved to be too steep. Instead of driving, they plan to save by flying out of Buffalo, N.Y.

"It's already high enough during March Break. But then when you factor in the exchange it's even worse," said the mother of two, who also maintains a bank account with U.S. funds.

Melissa Vroon, founding partner of FamilyFunCanada.com, said a friend going to Hawaii plans to purchase discounted attraction passes at her local Costco ahead of time.

"Other people are looking at other destinations where the Canadian dollar still has a bit of pull, looking at Mexico or Costa Rica rather than U.S. holidays," said the mother of two.

Vroon plans to take advantage of a hotel sale in Mexico and travel on accumulated airline points with her family.

Dennis said she and her family hope to ski during March Break, and may look into resorts in Ontario or Quebec's Mont-Tremblant. But if those options are off the table due to lack of snow, they'll consider activities within the city.

Canadian tourist destinations could indeed see a surge among homegrown visitors.

There has already been a noticeable uptick at Whistler Blackcomb Resort, which is on track to have a record number of visits, according to its parent company's latest financial report.

David Wilcox of Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. (TSX:WB) said they're seeing growth among foreign and domestic travellers from outside the area, including Canadians who are more likely stay home due to the currency.

Myrtle Beach, S.C., has launched a campaign where select hotels, live entertainment venues, attractions and restaurants are offering significant discounts to Canadians through the month of April.

"We asked the businesses if they could do something that would approach or approximate taking the Canadian dollar on par that would be ideal.... But interestingly enough, some businesses went above and beyond that discount," said Brad Dean, president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

Dean said the coastal city expects to welcome more than a million Canadians this year, and wanted to take measures to encourage them to visit and "be able to stretch that money just a little bit further."

"It wasn't that long ago that we were in the midst of the recession. And while it wasn't our exchange rate that was causing the economic pain, we've certainly felt that in our tourism economy.

"It certainly will stretch the businesses a bit to do this," he added, in reference to the discounts.

"But let's face it: Tourism is good business for Myrtle Beach ... and Canadians are a huge part of that."



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Bombardier may lay off hundreds at its Quebec railway plant if no orders come in

    Economic CBC News
    The railway division of Bombardier Inc. says losing out on a large electric train contract in Montreal may force it to lay off workers this fall at its plant in La Pocatiere, Que., unless it wins some new contracts. Source
  • B.C. launches challenges of Alberta's ban on wine

    Economic CTV News
    VANCOUVER - The British Columbia government has launched a formal challenge against Alberta's ban on its wines. B.C. says it has notified Alberta that it is formally requesting consultations under the Canadian free trade agreement's dispute settlement process. Source
  • Bombardier may lay off hundreds at its Quebec railway plant

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL -- The railway division of Bombardier Inc. says losing out on a large electric train contract in Montreal may force it to lay off workers this fall at its plant in La Pocatiere, Que. Source
  • Feathers fly as chicken shortage shuts KFCs across Britain

    Economic CTV News
    LONDON - Fast-food chain KFC has been forced to close most of its 900 outlets in Britain and Ireland because of a shortage of chicken The company is blaming "teething problems" with its new delivery partner, DHL. Source
  • N.L. unveils 12-year plan for offshore oil, gas development

    Economic CTV News
    ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- Cash-strapped Newfoundland and Labrador has announced a 12-year plan to speed and enhance development of its offshore oil and gas resources. The province will review regulations and advance tie-back technology to allow more extraction at existing sites with less cost. Source
  • N.L. unveils plan to double oil production by 2030

    Economic CBC News
    The Newfoundland and Labrador government launched a new plan on Monday for growing its oil and gas sector. Highlights of Advance 2030 include doubling offshore oil production by 2030 through reducing development time for projects. Targets for the plan include drilling more than 100 new exploration wells, and tapping into multiple basins to produce more than 650,000 barrels of oil per day from new and existing projects, as well as commercial natural gas production. Source
  • Your auto insurance will be cheaper if you sign up in this month: LowestRates.ca

    Economic CTV News
    Your auto insurance rate is cheaper if you sign up when the weather is warm. That’s the key takeaway from a two-year price analysis by LowestRates.ca. The financial product comparison website found that rates quoted in Ontario were at their lowest between July and October, dipping by as much as six per cent in August 2017 from the annual average. Source
  • Canadian lumber producers buoyant about 2018 with high hopes for duties

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL - Softwood lumber duties aren't dampening the spirits of Canadian lumber producers as strong demand from rising U.S. housing starts and tight supply is expected to keep prices high throughout 2018. The number of U.S. Source
  • Markets rise as investors' jitters ease

    Economic CTV News
    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - Asian markets were higher on Monday following Wall Street gains last week, as investors' jitters showed signs of easing. Many major markets were closed on holidays. KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 2 per cent to 22,149.21. Source
  • European shares drift lower as traders take a breather

    Economic CTV News
    LONDON -- European shares drifted lower Monday as investors paused for breath following a sizeable rally last week. Despite the move lower, there are few signs of the turmoil that gripped stock markets earlier this month. Source