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Canadians reworking vacation plans as loonie languishes

PART FOUR OF BNN'S WEEK LONG SPECIAL COVERAGE: THE HIGH PRICE OF A LOW DOLLAR

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Discouraged by the strong U.S. dollar, many Canadian travellers are refraining from trips to the United States in favour of staycations or 'bucket list' adventures in Europe.

Canadians took 4.3 million trips to the U.S. last October, according to Statistics Canada. That represents a 20 percent decline compared to the same month in 2014.

After 18 years of family trips to Vail, Colorado, Toronto resident Voula Moran is among that growing group of Canadians opting out of stateside vacations.

“We started when the kids were very young,” she says of the annual March Break vacation. “We wanted to give them a sport that they could have their whole lives.”

This year, Moran says the weak loonie forced her to re-consider the family tradition.

“The incremental expense this year is just too much.”

The Morans’ slope-side hotel rooms and ski passes now cost more than $17,000 Canadian per week, a $3,000 dollar increase over 2015.

“It is really disappointing,” she says. “Especially because they’re having great snow.”

Like many Canadians, the Morans have decided to stay closer to home in 2016, opting for a ski trip in B.C.

Others have decided to travel to farther-flung destinations where they get more bang for their buck.

“I believe we’re looking at growth in travel to Europe anywhere between three to eight, maybe 10 percent for 2016,” says Wolf Paunic, president of Trafalgar Canada, which operates more than 230 guided tours and vacations around the globe.

But while Canadians are adapting their travel plans to the exchange rate, many Americans are not.

Trips by U.S. visitors to Canada increased just five percent year-over-year in October. Travel experts say that figure should be much higher.

“Americans don’t look at other currencies by and large,” says Rob Taylor, a vice-president at the Tourism Association of Canada. “They look at offers and identify value.”

Those counting on tourism to boost Canada’s economy, including Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz, should pack their patience.

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