NIAGARA FALLS , Ontario, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Canada's falling exchange rate, now hovering at about 70 cents to the U.S. dollar, has meant a boom in U.S. tourists crossing the border.
Most Canadian cities are within 100 miles of the 5,525-mile border with the United States, including the boundary with Alaska, and tourism is largely flowing one way over the bridges and roads between the two countries.
"2015 was the best year we've had since 2008, when Canada saw a big dip in U.S. tourism because the U.S. was requiring Americans to show a passport to re-enter the country. More Americans have passports now, and I've talked to people staying at some of the hotels who are amazed at the bargains they're getting," said Wayne Thomson of Niagara Falls, Ontario, Tourism.
The decline in the loonie, the Canadian dollar so nicknamed for the loon on the reverse of the Canadian one-dollar coin, was prompted largely by the fall in the price of oil, one of Canada's major exports. The dollar typically runs apace of, or only slightly below, the value of the U.S. dollar, but the current 30 percent discount indicates bargains are available for U.S. tourists.
Three-star hotel rooms at ski resorts in Vancouver's Blackcomb-Whistler area, site of the 2010 Winter Olympics, are available for under $50 per night. Tourism Vancouver reported an 8.7 percent increase is U.S. visitation in 2015, compared to the previous year; Montreal reported a 9.7 percent rise, and expects a 6 percent increase in 2017 as it celebrates its 375th anniversary. Montreal also saw an increase in non-U.S. visitors, airport arrivals and cruise ship arrivals.