Restaurants, hotels, retail shops and other venues have gained from the influx of U.S. visitors, many of whom jumped across the border to take advantage of the U.S. dollar’s sharp increase in value against the loonie.
Beyond the one-time events, the tide of American tourists coming to Canada to take advantage of the stronger greenback hasn’t exactly swelled, despite the sharp currency swing. American visits to Canada were up eight per cent last year, according to TD Economics, and visits are estimated to rise another six per cent this year.
“Americans surveyed in recent years have placed Canada relatively low on the list in terms of desirability of vacation spots,” TD economists said in a study on cross-border travel trends released Monday.
It’s perhaps a perception thing with younger U.S. travellers.
“Canada’s reputation as a land of natural beauty and spectacular scenery tends to resonate more among older visitors and less among millennials,” said the report’s authors, TD deputy chief economist Derek Burleton and Admir Kolaj, an economic analyst.
“A lack of new high-profile attractions in Canadian cities may be a contributing factor.”
Only Mexico ranked lower as a travel destination that offered “authentic experiences” or a place to explore culturally on a list that included Italy, Australia, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, according to the report.
There were about 1.6 million more visits from U.S. traveller to Canada in 2015 than in 2014, TD says, but total numbers are still “well off the peaks reached in the late 1990s and early 2000s”.
That number is expected to rise again this year fueling an uptick in spending by U.S. visitors in Canada to $9.6 billion – up from a low of $7.1 billion in 2013 and the highest amount in over a decade.
‘This is not a massive game changer. But it certainly provides some underlying support to an economy where growth has been sorely lacking of late’
That compares to the estimated $20 billion Canadians will still spend in the United States this year, the majority of it from snowbirds, a group that is altering but not abandoning their spending plans – unlike Canadian cross-border shoppers.
Cross-border shoppers will instead spend more money at home, the report said, which combined with the lift from a growing number of U.S. travellers, will provide about a $5-billion boost to Canada’s economy.
“This is not a massive game changer,” the TD economists said, “but it certainly provides some underlying support to an economy where growth has been sorely lacking of late.”