Sat, Jan 07, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Canada tourism spending advances to 20-year high

Reuters, OTTAWA

A tourist poses for a photograph with a moose at the CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on June 29 last year.

Photo: Bloomberg

Tourism spending in Canada jumped the most in nearly 20 years in the third quarter of last year, official data showed on Thursday, pushed up in part by a weak Canadian dollar that has cut the cost of travel.

Statistics Canada said total spending by foreign and domestic tourists grew by 2.2 percent from the second quarter to hit C$21.3 billion (US$16.1 billion), the largest percentage increase since the second quarter of 1997. The figures are seasonally adjusted.

“It is a perfect storm of a lot of great conditions,” Rob Taylor of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada said, adding that the sagging domestic currency had kept Canadians at home while attracting more foreigners.

The Canadian dollar has slumped in value on the back of a slide in oil prices. Last summer one US dollar bought around C$1.32, compared with C$1.06 two years previously.

Taylor suggested another reason for Canada’s popularity could be Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a close ally of US President Barack Obama who has traveled the world to promote Canada as a progressive nation.

“People are talking about Canada in a lot of different ways, [such as] the bromance with Obama,” Taylor said by telephone.

The Lonely Planet travel guide in October last year named Canada as the world’s top tourist destination for this year, saying one reason was Trudeau’s “wave of positivity.”

Canadian Tourism Research Institute associate director Gregory Hermus said there had been double-digit year-on-year growth from regions such as Europe and Asia last summer.

“The international markets were really gangbusters,” he said, citing moves by domestic carriers Air Canada and WestJet Airlines Ltd to increase capacity to overseas destinations.

“The exchange rate has an impact ... one of the prime competitors is the United States, so with the strong US dollar, Canada is looking much more price competitive,” he said.

Growth could be just as impressive this year, when Canada marks the 150th anniversary of its creation. The New York Times on Tuesday put the country at the top of a list of recommended destinations.

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