Nearly a third of Manitobans want to stay away from President Donald J. Trump.
A new poll by Probe Research and the Winnipeg Free Press shows about 29 per cent of Manitobans, or roughly 380,000 people, will avoid travel to the United States after Trump is sworn in as president on Jan. 20, 2017.
The number is high enough to be a warning for border cities that rely on Canadian shoppers and tourists, said Scott MacKay, president of Winnipeg-based Probe Research.
"200,000 people, if they were all to follow through on that, that would have a very large impact on the travel, tourism and hospitality businesses," he said.
The Probe poll was conducted over the phone between Nov. 29, 2016 and Dec. 11, 2016 and with a sample size of 1,000 people. One can say with 95 per cent certainty that the results are within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Women especially repelled by Trump
More women than men said they would avoid travel to the U.S. under Trump. Nearly half, or 49 per cent, of middle-aged women (aged 35 to 54) surveyed said they were now less likely to travel to the U.S.
That demographic is an important one for businesses that rely on cross-border shoppers, said Barry Wilfahrt, president of the Grand Forks and East Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce. The metropolitan region straddles the border of Minnesota and North Dakota and is located about 230 kilometres south of Winnipeg.
Canadians represent about 20 per cent of overall retail sales and between a quarter and a third of all hotel business in Grand Forks, according to the chamber.
"Anything that could potentially adversely affect the Canadian travel to the United States, particularly to Grand Forks, it's obviously a concern to us," said Wilfahrt.
Those who used to be the most likely to travel to the States — such as more affluent South Winnipeggers — were the most anti-Trump, said MacKay
For instance, 62 per cent of those who said they were less likely to travel Stateside under a Trump administration earn $60,000 or more a year.
"They are people who are a little more affluent, they come from places like South Winnipeg and other places that tend to go down to Fargo and Grand Forks a lot to visit," he said. "That's going to have some kind of implications for the U.S. and travel and tourism."
While pollsters didn't look outside Manitoba to see what sentiments were across the country, Manitoba could be a bellweather.
"Manitoba is very often the average place in Canada. I don't think Manitoba would be that different from anywhere else," said MacKay.
"Canadians seek value and they seek selection and that's what we offer in Grand Forks." — Barry Wilfahrt, Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce
"I know we do a lot of cross-border shopping just because of our proximity to the border but there are many places in Canada that are like that."
Wilfahrt said he takes all polls with a grain of salt and believes after Canadians get used to President Trump they will resume their old habits — like annual getaways to towns close to the border like Grand Forks.
"This election is maybe a little bit more polarizing than it's been in the past but I expect that once President Trump's first 100 days are over it will be business as usual," the Chamber of Commerce president said.
"At the end of the day, Canadians seek value and they seek selection and that's what we offer in Grand Forks…. That's why they'll continue to come down here."
Meanwhile, 62 per cent of those surveyed said Trump's election will have zero effect on their travel habits, while four per cent said they were more likely to visit. Five per cent were unsure.
A Mainstreet/Postmedia poll conducted during the U.S. election found that Manitoba supported Trump more than any other province with 28 per cent of people in the province surveyed saying they would vote for the Republican candidate