Canadian dollar makes like Tom Petty: Free Falling!

IMG_0790Your winter vacation may have just become more expensive.

On the other hand, if you work in the hospitality industry in Toronto you might have more money in your pocket for a holiday next year.

The Canadian dollar is dropping, in case you hadn’t noticed. After being close to par against the American greenback for some time, the loonie has slipped. Badly. As of Friday afternoon, it was down to 91 cents and change against the mighty U.S. dollar. That’s about as low as we’ve been in four and-a-half years.

What that means for many of us is that hotel in Florida or Myrtle Beach we plan to spend March Break in may have gone up in price. Instead of spending $100 for a room, it might now cost you $108. Multiply that by six nights and you’re out about $50. Plus the cost of gas and meals and entertainment over a week.

Sunquest this week said they’ll have to adjust prices in light of the falling Canadian dollar.

It’s not an inconsiderable issue. But we’ll still pay a lot less for most things than we do in Canada, even with the dollar’s plunge. Look at it this way, at least you don’t have to pay 13 per cent GST at the outlet mall in Florida. And you can still find bars selling cold Corona’s for a buck at happy hour, something you’d NEVER see north of the border.

Still, it’s causing some angst for travelers worried about losing money.

David McCaig, president of the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies, told CTV that the lower dollar hasn’t had much effect on Canadians booking vacations down south. But it might if things continue, he said.

Back in 2009, McCaig said travel agencies across the country saw declines in the number of vacations Canadians were booking, CTV reported.

Instead of packing their bags and heading south or to the Mediterranean, many opted to have a “staycation” or travel within the country to stretch their dollar.

The travel industry may see this again if prices for vacations begin to creep up on a lower Canadian dollar, he told CTV.

IMG_0564For now, agencies continue to see a lot of “pent-up demand” to get away to the Caribbean, the U.S. and Europe, an urge exacerbated by the frigid temperatures that have recently gripped most of Canada.

“It’s cold enough in Canada that everyone wants to get away,” said McCaig, whose group represents 2,000 agencies.

No kidding.

While a pain for many folks heading south, the dollar’s drop probably is good news if you run a restaurant or a hotel and want to attract Americans. This country is inordinately expensive, so if we can advertise that our dollar is worth an extra 10 per cent to a visitor from Buffalo or Chicago, that’s a good thing.


Fun report on CNN about how the folks in British tourism put out one of those unintentionally hilarious (and insulting) guides about how to treat foreigners.

The guide says tourism folks in Britain need to anticipate the needs of Japanese visitors but that with French folks they should avoid “exchanging a smile or making eye contact” if they don’t know them.


The guide suggests Canadians will bristle if someone mistakenly calls them an American, which probably isn’t quite true. We might take umbrage, but we wouldn’t bristle. Or complain.

There are other hilarious bits, including advice that Russians shouldn’t be given small rooms because they’re such tall people and that Indians “are amiable, but have a tendency to change their minds.”

Yes, they do, and now they’re changing their minds about a trip to England and instead heading to France, where they won’t have to make eye contact. Or to Russia, where apparently all the rooms have 10 foot ceilings.

The best advice concerned the poor Germans, who’ve done nothing but bail out all of Europe the last few months. Instead of acting grateful, the British tourism folks suggest that hoteliers or restaurateurs “deal promptly with any complaint” from them, lest they become even more “rude and aggressive” than they can already appear.

You can’t make this stuff up. You really can’t.

Canadian Space Agency astronaut Hadfield, the commander of the ISS, is seen on a screen holding the new Canadian five dollar bill, while on a space mission, as he takes part in a video conference in OttawaCOMMANDER HADFIELD GOES GREEN

I love that our singing astronaut, Chris Hadfield, is becoming a tourism ambassador for Ireland. It’s a great country, and he seems like a great guy.

According to QMI, Tourism Ireland says it is hoping that Hadfield will help make Ireland a top vacation destination by showcasing some of the country’s top visitor attractions and experiences over the coming week.

According to Tourism Ireland’s website, the organization will create three short films of Hadfield’s five-day visit, QMI said.

Hadfield and his wife Helene will visit Croke Park and the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, as well as Donegal, and in Northern Ireland they will tour Armagh, Cushendall, the Glens of Antrim and Titanic Belfast. Hadfield will also post about his experiences to his more than one million Twitter followers.


Honestly, I don’t know what to make of this. I see that Peter McKay, Canada’s Justice Minister, is warning that Canada risks becoming another Bangkok or Las Vegas if the federal government doesn’t replace the prostitution laws recently struck down by the Supreme Court of Canda.

I have several thoughts, now that I think about it. One is that Peter McKay is an idiot. The other is that he’s just another Conservative boor who doesn’t have the faintest idea about the real world.

Canada another Bangkok? Another Las Vegas? It is to laugh. I mean, our morality and our general sense of propriety would never allow it to happen. I don’t care what the Supreme Court says, Canada isn’t about to become the world’s most northerly brothel state.

Not only is this country’s moral compass too strong to allow that to happen, HAS THIS EVER LOOKED OUT THE WINDOW??? Does he really think people who know flock to the tropical streets of Bangkok or to the sinful strip in Las Vegas are going to come to the land of ice and snow for a little nooky? Geez, Peter, they can’t even land at Pearson during a cold snap, how can they make their way to Yonge St. for a little song and dance?

“We do not want Canada to become a haven for sex tourism,” MacKay told QMI Agency.

Last month, the highest court in the country ruled Canada’s bans on brothels, communicating for the purpose of prostitution and living off its profits unconstitutional. It also gave Parliament a year before those laws would be wiped off the books.

MacKay promises the Conservatives will fill the void with new legislation. Which is probably a good thing. I guess. But let’s not pretend we’re suddenly going to be overrun with sex maniacs.



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