New Brunswick

Weak dollar has Canadians opting for domestic vacations

According to tourism officials, an increase in U.S. visitors, and the length of their stays, are expected this year due to the weak loonie. Adversely, more Canadians are opting to stay north of the border.

Canadians are ditching their U.S. vacation plans with the loonie at a 6-year low

McKees Mills resident Larry Hicks and his family usually spend part of their summer vacation in Maine, but this year they cancelled that plan due to the low Canadian dollar.

As Canadians try to squeeze more vacation time out of the remainder of this summer, more are opting for domestic vacations in light of the weak Canadian dollar.

The loonie is sitting at about 76 cents US. Last month, the Canadian dollar dipped below 77 cents for the first time in six years.

Larry Hicks of McKees Mills is a visitor at Kiwanis Oceanfront Camping in St. Andrews. This year, his family cancelled their regular trip to Maine to save some cash.

St. Andrews is just one tourism hotspot that sees a fair share of visitors from the United States. With the weak Canadian dollar, American tourists are now spending more and staying longer.
"We cancelled those plans because of the dollar," said Hicks.

"I had looked at a campground in Eastport, Me., which is similar to this one. Right on the ocean, a beautiful place. But because of that dollar, we [decided to] forgo it."

Hicks isn't alone.

Montreal's Daniel Spooner said his money is better spent in New Brunswick and on the east coast than south of the border.

"If you take a $1,000 before you leave the country, it's only worth $750 in the United States," said Spooner. 

"So it's better to spend it here. For tourists, you better stay in Canada right now."

U.S. tourists spending more, staying longer

It's another story for American tourists.

The low dollar is a big boon for visitors, who are taking advantage of the opportunity to save money.

Gail Person is visiting New Brunswick from Massachusetts and she said the exchange rate is at about 30 per cent.

"I'll be spending at least that [much] more," Person said.

"Whimsical spending is easier when the dollar's a little big higher ... So I think we are spending more and enjoying it."

Not only are U.S. tourists shelling out the cash, but when finding out how much further their dollar goes, they're even opting to stay in town longer, said Alison Willms, an office administrator at Kiwanis Oceanfront Camping.

"When they [U.S. tourists] get here, they're like, 'Oh, well, it's so nice, and it's not that expensive, I'll stay another couple other nights,'" said Willms. 

"They'll try to stay another week sometimes.'

This idea is echoed by New Brunswick's tourism department. 

Jason Hoyt, a departmental spokesperson, said in an email statement that considering the current relative travel costs and historical trends,New Brunswick expects a three to four per cent increase in American visits in 2015 over last year.

He also added that current U.S. border crossings into New Brunswick on auto trips of one or more nights have also increased by three per cent since last year.

As more Canadians explore vacations within the country, Hoyt said the department expects a boost of tourists from Quebec.

"The current strength of the U.S. dollar against the Canadian dollar is expected to favour domestic tourism by Canadians, which should boost Québec visits to New Brunswick as trips to places such as Old Orchard Beach and other U.S. destinations become relatively more expensive," said Hoyt.