Low Canadian Dollar and “Trump Bump” Boost Travel to Canada

Some of you may be feeling the pain of rising food costs due to a weak Canadian dollar. However, the benefits of a low Canadian dollar – and, as it turns out, of Donald Trump — may offer you some relief through an increase in tourists.

In June 2016, there were 2.47 million international travellers to Canada. That was a 4.7% increase over June 2015. The majority of travellers (80%) are from the United States, a figure that rose by 3.4% to 1.9 million visits. The number of visits to Canada from countries other than the United States increased by 10.6% to 507,689. In the first six months of 2016, travel to Canada is up 10.2%.

In contrast, the weak Canadian dollar is discouraging travel among Canadians, especially to the United States. The number of Canadians traveling to the U.S. fell by 10.3% to 3.4 million visits in June 2016. The number of Canadians traveling to countries other than the U.S. slipped by 1.0% to just over 959,000. In the first six months of 2016, Canadian travel abroad tumbled by 10.1%.

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This bodes well for foodservice operators who rely on tourism dollars in the busy summer months. So far, operators have seen a healthy increase in spending, and domestic and international tourism has played a big role in that.

Most provinces have reported an increase in the number of visitors so far this year. According to Tourism Nova Scotia, for example, there was a 12% increase in the number of visitors to the province from the United States. Cape Breton reported a 31% increase in visitors.  Some of this growth can be attributed to an unlikely person: Donald Trump. A website by radio DJ Rob Calabrese invited Americans to move to Cape Breton if Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. The website drew international attention, which led to the sharp increase in visitors.

Read more about how the economy is affecting the Canadian restaurant industry on the Economist’s Notebook. Don’t forget to check out our Foodservice Facts 2016: our annual, full-colour magazine presenting the latest foodservice statistics, trends and forecasts, along with a detailed analysis of how they will affect foodservice operators. Click the image below for more info!

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Chris Elliott is the Senior Economist for Restaurants Canada; he manages and produces a comprehensive research program that has made Restaurants Canada a leading source of information for and about Canada’s $89-billion foodservice industry. Chris produces a number of member reports that analyze key industry trends and economic forecasts. He also provides research to support Restaurants Canada’s lobbying efforts on issues that affect foodservice operators – from payroll taxes to food costs. Chris has worked with Restaurants Canada for 20 years, has a Bachelor of Arts and Master Degree in Economics and specializes in economic modeling and forecasting.