DO expects good summer with low Canadian dollar

Destination Osoyoos is expecting increased activity around the lake as the low Canadian dollar keeps vacationers in Canada.

If an influx of snowbirds into the community this winter is any indication, Osoyoos can expect a great summer season, says Gail Scott, executive director of Destination Osoyoos.

Ms. Scott says the low Canadian dollar — now trading at less than 70 cents U.S. — should keep more Canadians in Canada this May through September and likely will bring more Americans north of the border as well.

That, she added, will mean more traffic to Canada’s resort communities — including Osoyoos.

“With the Canadian dollar as low as it is, we should see more people stay in and around the area,” Ms. Scott said. “The dollar will have people staying closer to home.”

She is expecting an influx of visitors from across British Columbia and Alberta, but also from other Western provinces.

“We’re expecting it to be equally as good as last year, if not better. As always, we will do very well around the lake.

The feel-good outlook is echoed by Ingrid Jarrett, General Manager at the Watermark beach Resort.

“The US dollar is certainly keeping Canadians travelling more at home – we are seeing Albertans for the same reason – and the outlook for B.C. is to lead the country from an economic perspective,” Ms. Jarrett said.

“Our biggest challenge is finding people to work.”

That “tourism economy” has already manifested itself this year. Osoyoos hotels and resorts are reporting higher than normal occupancy rates as snowbirds — seniors with homes in cold-weather communities — flock to the South Okanagan for the winter.

“Snowbirds this year are making a huge difference up and down Main Street,” Ms. Scott said.

“Many are here because of the principle of it,” said Ms. Scott. “They could afford to travel to the U.S. but say they’re not prepared to waste their money paying for something they can get for less closer to home.”

Yesterday, the Vancouver Province reported that a growing number of Canadian snowbirds are selling their U.S. sunbelt properties, taking profits as a rising U.S. dollar boosts their Canadian-dollar value.

Although Destination Osoyoos is expecting an increase in Canadian traffic, it also has plans to work with destination marketers south of the border, especially along Washington state’s Hwy. 97.

“(Washington-state tourism operators) are hurting because of that dollar exchange,” Ms. Scott said. “Last year it was bad for them, but this year it could be huge.”

Destination Osoyoos will host a February 26 “cross-border meeting” with tourism support organizations to discuss joint marketing and event programs that would build tourism on both sides of the line.

“Our focus is bring people into the North Okanogan on the U.S. side but also into the Osoyoos area,” Ms. Scott said.

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