Strong US dollar means big business

217/365 August 5 - Found MoneyAn 11-year-low exchange rate between the US and Canada is tipped to be a strong economic driver for the tourism industry, and Sun Peaks is poised to capitalize on the strength of the US dollar.

Christopher Nicolson, president of Tourism Sun Peaks (TSP), said the exchange rate was a key factor for US visitors when booking a holiday.

“Like any of us, Americans are more likely to travel if it’s more affordable,” Nicolson said.

“The exchange really helps us compete, because everything costs less,” he said.

“If you took a graph of the US dollar and overlaid it with a graph of US visitors to Canada, it would look very much the same.”

The low loonie has also been noted as an important factor in securing a number of major US ski conference groups to Sun Peaks in coming years, including the Texas Ski Council in February 2016 and the Far West Ski Association (FWSA) in March 2017.

Both organizations boast significant member numbers, with the FWSA representing 150 clubs in 12 states, and a combined membership of over 50,000 skiers and snowboarders.

The clubs are expected to bring more than 100 members to Sun Peaks for their respective conferences, who will share their experience with their own clubs when they return.

Nicolson credited John Douglas, general manager of Nancy Greene’s Cahilty Lodge, with securing the winning bid for the FWSA and the team at the Sun Peaks Grand for securing the Texas Ski Council.

“It’s an excellent opportunity to introduce Sun Peaks to many clubs in the US that may never have been to Sun Peaks before. The US dollar is giving us a huge opportunity right now,” Nicolson said.

The exchange rate also means more Canadians will choose to remain in Canada, rather than travel abroad for ski holidays, leading to a predicted increase in Canadian visitors this winter.

Economists are predicting the US dollar could continue to rise in the coming months. The Canadian dollar is currently hovering around 76 cents US, and recently dipped to its lowest value since August 2004. A financial meltdown in China — a major trading partner for Canada — means the loonie is unlikely to bounce back anytime soon.

Nicolson said there were downsides to the high US dollar, including increased marketing costs within America. From an operations perspective, buying equipment from the US, such as snow cats, will also see a cost increase of around 30 per cent.