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Dollar's drop brings boost for business in Niagara

A boost in business in the Niagara region is proving that it’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to this summer’s downward dive of the Canadian dollar.

U.S. visitors on the shopping draw of low Canadian dollar: 'We loved it'

Ruth Ann Schriefer of The Pie Plate Bakery and Café in Virgil, Ont., says a boost in tourism has meant for a busy summer. Her eatery just outside of Niagara-on-the-Lake has been serving so much food –including pizza and peach pie – they can barely keep up. (CBC)

A boost in business in the Niagara region is proving that it's not all doom and gloom when it comes to this summer's downward dive of the Canadian dollar.

Complete official figures are not yet in, but unofficially, business owners say the increase in visitors is impossible to miss – and paying off.

"We know border crossings are up five per cent this year. Anecdotally, we are hearing business is up 10 to 30 per cent," Jody Larose with the Tourism Partnership of Niagara told CBC News on Tuesday.

"The people have not stopped coming," said Ruth Ann Schriefer of The Pie Plate Bakery and Café in Virgil, Ont.

Schriefer's eatery just outside of Niagara-on-the-Lake has been serving so much food –including pizza and peach pie – they can barely keep up.

"We've been peeling peaches like we've never peeled peaches before," she said with a smile, her head shaking slightly in humourous disbelief.

"It's just been crazy. It's hard because sometimes we don't have enough staff."

Tourism boom

What Schriefer has experienced is just a small slice of the region's booming tourism.

A quick survey by CBC News of the parking lot at the new outlet mall outside of Niagara-on-the-Lake suggests where a lot of the traffic is coming from: New York and New Jersey.

All of this is very good news for a region that was hard hit in the past decade and a half by 9/11, the SARS outbreak, and the 2008 economic downturn.

In the tourism hot spot of Niagara Falls, several U.S. visitors told the CBC's Shannon Martin that the soaring exchange rate is a real draw.

"We loved it! We are going shopping, it totally works into our benefit," one young woman said.

'More bang for your buck'

"You get 25 per cent more bang for your buck," another woman said, echoed by a man who said "Yeah, I like that."

And it's not just foreign visitors who are drawn to the area. Canadian visitors are also flocking to Niagara, relieved to be spared the hit of a high exchange rate.

"When your dollar doesn't go as far, you want to stay local – and there are so many great local things," said Nadine Sowerby who travelled to Niagara from Toronto.

"You get more for your money," said another woman who was shopping with her daughter.

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