Bright Idea

American dream
Could a devalued loonie lead to an uptick in U.S. visitors for New Brunswick?

The fading value of the Canadian dollar versus the U.S. greenback isn’t good news for snowbirds looking to catch a little sun stateside, but it could provide a boost to operators in the Canadian tourism business.

Take New Brunswick, for example. It’s the closest Atlantic Canadian province to people living in the northeast United States. It shares a border on its western flank with the state of Maine. Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are close as well. So with the Canadian loonie’s value recently dropping to 90 cents versus the American dollar, could that convince more American tourists to visit New Brunswick in 2014?

Greg Hermus, associate director with the Canadian Tourism Research Institute, says a devalued loonie will have a positive impact for New Brunswick tourism. “For every 10 per cent decline in the value of the Canadian dollar vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar, we would see a five per cent increase in U.S. auto travel to New Brunswick,” Hermus says.

Hermus says the Institute’s forecast for U.S. auto travel to New Brunswick was made before the Canadian dollar’s value started falling and projected travel would increase two per cent in 2014. “Now instead of two per cent growth, we could be looking at four-to-five per cent growth,” Hermus says. “This could even provide a boost from other international travelers because Canada is looking a little cheaper than the U.S. right now.”

Surprisingly, statistics provided by the New Brunswick government show the number of U.S. resident border crossings into the province (by auto) of more than one night haven’t changed much since 2008, even when the Canadian dollar was valued almost at par with the U.S. dollar.

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