B.C. travellers snubbing the U.S.
The falling loonie could be to blame for the changes in British Columbian travel patterns, according to industry experts. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
Statistics Canada data released Tuesday shows B.C. travellers are turning away from the U.S. in favour of other countries — and the fall of the Canadian dollar is likely to blame, say industry experts.
Between March 2013 and March 2014, there were 29,399 fewer day trips to the U.S. At the same time, trips to countries other than America increased by 37,033.
“Typically, our flow to other places declines as our purchasing power goes down,” said Peter Williams, director of the Simon Fraser University centre for tourism policy and research.
He said that in the short-term, travel to places such as Europe, Mexico and developing countries would likely increase as travellers look to make the most of the loonie.
“We do better against the Euro than we do against the U.S. dollar typically,” he said.
“For the most part, the willingness to travel abroad shrinks. So places like Mexico become very popular on a price basis. Often times, developing countries become less expensive options if they’re going overseas.”
Beginning late last year, the value of each Canadian dollar has fallen from a steady .97-cents US throughout 2013 to .90-cents US this year in March, according to Bank of Canada numbers.
Williams speculated that if the dollar continues to be weak, travellers might begin to plan domestic vacations instead.
Flight Centre spokeswoman Allison Wallace said her company is up about 10% on bookings to Europe while bookings to the U.S. are “flat.”
“There are no significant pricing differences for Europe, i.e. specials, etc., that we can see so it’s fair to say, although somewhat speculative, that the drop in the CAD versus the USD has people thinking about travelling elsewhere,” she wrote by email.
On Tuesday, according to the Bank of Canada numbers, the Canadian dollar sat at approximately .92 US.