Low loonie a 'silver lining' for province's tourism operators

Several industries in Newfoundland and Labrador are seeing a silver lining in the low Canadian dollar, including the province's tourism operators.
The view from Gros Morne Mountain's summit, looks down at Ten Mile Pond, an inland fjord in western Newfoundland. (Melanie Pattern/Canadian Press)

Several industries in Newfoundland and Labrador are seeing a silver lining in the low Canadian dollar, including the province's tourism operators.

Peggy Fisher, whose family runs Fisher's Loft in Port Rexton, told CBC Radio's On the Go that according to her bookings, the 2016 tourism season is looking up.

"They are about 25 per cent ahead of what they were last year — and last year was our best year ever," she said.

"I think we are getting a lot of Americans, the dollar exchange rate is definitely in their favour. Also, the geopolitical situation in Europe is making Newfoundland a very attractive place. We're sort of the safest and least expensive place to visit in the world."
John and Peggy Fisher are the owners of Fisher's Loft. (CBC)

Ken Thomas, co-owner of Sea Side Suites and Bonne Bay Inn in Woody Point, said Americans have started to take notice of the low loonie. 

"We're solid, and our bookings are good. Interestingly enough, not all of them are really seeing the fact that their dollar is going to go a long way," said Thomas.

"But in the conversation that becomes evident to them, and they look at an upgrade and various things like that — so all positive." 

Thomas believes another factor is the higher level of exposure this province has been getting as a desired tourist destination.

"I think what's happening is Newfoundland is fairly high on people's radar ... there's lots of promotion. And as operators, we're benefiting from that exposure."

Increase in Canadian tourists

Fisher said she's noticed an increase in the number of nights booked, in particular, from Canadian visitors.

"We've gone from an average one to two-night stay, to a two to three and sometimes more night stay. Often Canadian guests, and they're coming with another couple, so that's really making a huge difference," she said.

"I think that obviously they're not going to the states, that's too expensive — and I think they're probably not going to Europe either."

Fisher added that tourists are eager to see the more iconic images of Newfoundland and Labrador, like whales and puffins.

Whales are a common sight, and a huge tourist draw in the Bonne Bay area. (Blackawton Boat Tours)

"'We've been to other parts of Atlantic Canada, and Newfoundland has always been on our list, we really want to come,'" tourists tell Fisher.

"They want to know when the icebergs are going to be here ... all of the iconic things about Newfoundland are attracting them. But as one of my guests said to me, 'I'm feeling a little greedy,' because it is less expensive for them to come here now." 

Thomas compares the American-Canadian border to "a 20-foot wall."

"Once you go down past that border, you're using Canadian Tire money," he said.

"So this is a perfect year to take a trip to Atlantic Canada, or consider somewhere in Canada for your holiday, and we'll be the beneficiaries of it."