Tourism officials lure state-side visitors with low loonie

Local tourism officials are doing their best to take advantage of the falling loonie by trying to tempt our state-side neighbours to cross the border.

Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island recently completed a 12-week advertising campaign in Detroit

A lower loonie means that Americans can get more for their money when visiting Windsor and other parts of Canada. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Local tourism officials and businesses are marketing Canada's low loonie to Americans in an effort to get our southerly neighbours to spend their money north of the border.

Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island recently completed a 12-week advertising campaign highlighting the advantages a low Canadian dollar presents for American travellers.

Gordon Orr, the tourism organization's chief executive officer, said the ads ran in the Metro Times, a free newspaper based in Detroit.

"For the first time in a long time the dollar is an advantage to us," Orr said. "For a long time the dollar was at par and there wasn't any traction. For Americans, there wasn't enough of a reason to cross the international border."

Gordon Orr, the CEO of Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, is seen speaking with CBC News on Wednesday. (CBC)

Asking readers how things could "possibly get any better" currency-wise, the ads said the relatively high value of the U.S. dollar means "more excitement, more indulgence, more luxury, and just more amazing experiences" for U.S. visitors.

The ads also touted various area attractions, including Caesars Windsor, local wineries and the Canadian Club Brand Centre.

"They're not just going to cross the international border because the dollar is lower," Orr said. "You have to give them a compelling reason, and authentic experience to get them to want to cross that border."

Orr said the tourism organization intends to implement another such ad campaign in the spring.

Wednesday, the loonie dipped below the 70-cent US mark during afternoon trading. It briefly fell below that same mark on Tuesday.

'It's quite remarkable'

Local clothing retailer Freeds is also trying to draw in customers from the United States. Late last year, the store had run radio advertising on a local sports-talk radio station.

Though there aren't any ads currently running, co-owner Ari Freed said he wants to start running them again soon.

"This change in the dollar is something a lot of businesses should start looking at again in Windsor," Freed told CBC News. "It's quite remarkable, the rapid decline and decrease of the dollar."

Though there's been a bit of uptick in American customers, most Detroiters aren't as in tune with the exchange rate as Canadians, Freed said. The challenge is to get them to think about spending their money across the border.

"Americans you'll find are somewhat insulated to the exchange rates," he said. "Even in metro Detroit, if you asked them what the exchange rate is in Canada, they'd have no idea."   

With files from The Canadian Press and Shaun Malley


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