Weakened Loonie Impacts Canadians Holiday Plans

MNP's TAKE: Despite having (nearly) survived another great Canadian winter, few can celebrate by treating themselves to a vacation across the border with the loonie valued at $0.73 USD (at the time of writing this). While many Canucks often fly south for the winter season, more and more are opting for more creative getaways in hopes of holding on to their dollars - and avoiding hefty credit card bills. 

One terrific money-saving option for taking advantage of vacation days is, as mentioned in the article below - take advantage of Canada's incredible landscapes. Another, very underrated alternative to travelling across the border - is the 'staycation'. With all of the money saved by not having to pay for travel or hefty exchange fees, think of all you could do simply being a tourist in your own community. Visit museums or galleries, enjoy lunch at that nice restaurant you've always meant to check out - even treat yourself to a night or two in a hotel to truly feel like you've had a chance to escape! Then you can set aside the savings for another time - when the Canadian dollar has climbed back up - and the tropics are calling your name! 

If you're struggling with debt, even imagining a vacation might feel next to impossible. Contact Grant Bazian, CIRP, President of MNP Ltd. at 778.374.2108 or [email protected] for information as to what debt solutions are available to help you achieve a fresh financial start. 


BY LAUREN LA ROSE FROM THE CANADIAN PRESS 

TORONTO - Maureen Dennis and her family had high hopes of heading abroad for March Break, but the weakened Canadian dollar has put plans for a sun-soaked getaway on ice.

"We were just hoping to go somewhere warm.... But everywhere that is warm has been affected by the dollar," said Dennis, founder of WeeWelcome.ca.

" It's an expensive time to go away," added the Toronto-based parenting expert, whose four children range in age from four to 12.

"It is a time that a lot of parents try to make the most of, but it is extra painful when you put the exchange rate on the dollar."

Canadian families and snowbirds who typically flock south during the winter are finding their wings clipped due to the falling loonie.

The Canadian dollar is currently hovering in the 72 cents US range, but has traded at nearly 13-year lows in recent weeks due to several factors, including the diminishing value of major commodities and slow economic growth.

Paul Phipps, chief marketing officer with Visit Florida, said the state saw a slight slowdown in Canadian travel last year, down about 1.5 per cent. But with estimates showing more than 700,000 Canadians own homes in Florida, he expects many will still make the trip while being more mindful of their spending habits.

"They may come here and not stay as long, or they'll come here and eat in more and not eat out. It may affect their shopping decisions," said Phipps, who said Canadians are the top international travellers in every region of the state.

Viji Bahadur and her family will be spending March Break in Miami with relatives. But their travel plans almost took a U-turn when flights from Toronto proved to be too steep. Instead of driving, they plan to save by flying out of Buffalo, N.Y.

"It's already high enough during March Break. But then when you factor in the exchange it's even worse," said the mother of two, who also maintains a bank account with U.S. funds.

Melissa Vroon, founding partner of FamilyFunCanada.com, said a friend going to Hawaii plans to purchase discounted attraction passes at her local Costco ahead of time.

"Other people are looking at other destinations where the Canadian dollar still has a bit of pull, looking at Mexico or Costa Rica rather than U.S. holidays," said the mo ther of two.

Vroon plans to take advantage of a hotel sale in Mexico and travel on accumulated airline points with her family.

Dennis said she and her family hope to ski during March Break, and may look into resorts in Ontario or Quebec's Mont-Tremblant. But if those options are off the table due to lack of snow, they'll consider activities within the city.

Canadian tourist destinations could indeed see a surge among homegrown visitors.

There has already been a noticeable uptick at Whistler Blackcomb Resort, which is on track to have a record number of visits, according to its parent company's latest financial report.

David Wilcox of Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. (TSX:WB) said they're seeing growth among foreign and domestic travellers from outside the area, including Canadians who are more likely stay home due to the currency.

Myrtle Beach, S.C., has launched a campaign where select hotels, live entertainment venues, attractions and restaurants are offering significant discounts to Canadians through the month of April.

"We asked the businesses if they could do something that would approach or approximate taking the Canadian dollar on par that would be ideal.... But interestingly enough, some businesses went above and beyond that discount," said Brad Dean, president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

Dean said the coastal city expects to welcome more than a million Canadians this year, and wanted to take measures to encourage them to visit and "be able to stretch that money just a little bit further."

"It wasn't that long ago that we were in the midst of the recession. And while it wasn't our exchange rate that was causing the economic pain, we've certainly felt that in our tourism economy.

"It certainly will stretch the businesses a bit to do this," he added, in reference to the discounts.

"But let's face it: Tourism is good business for Myrtle Beach ... and Canadians are a huge part of that."

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This article was written by Lauren La Rose and The Canadian Press from The Canadian Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.