January 27, 2016 11:33 pm
Updated: January 27, 2016 11:51 pm

U.S. travel deals aim to attract Canadians despite low dollar

WATCH: The low loonie may be preventing Canadians from heading to the U.S., but American tourism operators are doing whatever they can to make you forget about that awful exchange rate. Anne Drewa explains.

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A low Canadian dollar has Canadians changing travel plans.

Popular destinations like Las Vegas, Hawaii and Southern California may not be on the holiday agenda for Canadians thanks to a plunging loonie. That’s why some U.S. tourism operators are stepping up their game by providing attractive incentives.

Travel expert Claire Newell from Travel Best Bets says, “You’ll see marketing campaigns all over the Lower Mainland, on SkyTrains, at airports. They want our business because they are suffering.”

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So, expect to see more deals. Tourism operators say since September they’ve seen four or five seat sales offered by major airlines. That’s more than normal.  Across the border, Allegiant Air and Alaska Airlines have dropped fares by almost half for many flights compared to last year. The catalyst? Fewer B.C. licence plates parked at the Bellingham Airport.

The Bellingham Herald reported the Port of Bellingham is now looking at ways to adjust to the low numbers by increasing market support for existing airlines.

“We are seeing fares to Los Angeles for $50 one-way, but keep in mind those numbers are in U.S. dollars and it’s a low-cost carrier. Once you add in taxes, it may not be worth it,” Newell said.

She adds there are deals for Hawaii in January and February that are enticing, especially because it’s peak season.

“We are seeing Kauai packages for air and seven nights in a four-star hotel for $899 plus about $250 tax. Last year, it was $1,500 plus tax. So, the prices are dropping because hoteliers need to attract Canadian residents because that’s who typically fills those seats.”

READ MORE: Calling all American tourists: WestJet wants you to see more Canada

Even cruise lines are hoping to avoid choppy waters by throwing in more perks. Cruise Holidays of Port Coquitlam owner Barbara Young says some cruise lines are honouring a better exchange rate, while others are offering unlimited beverage packages. Young says that’s not unheard of, but unusual.

Travel experts say if you decide to travel to a U.S. destination, know the total cost of the trip before you go. If you are looking for a great deal, check out a number of travel websites, get a good travel agent involved and be flexible.

“If you see a one-day seat sale, jump on it. The lowest prices sell out first,” says Newell.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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