Flashback to Jan. 21, 2002: The Canadian dollar closes at 61.79 cents U.S., an all-time low. Just five years later, however, the loonie reaches parity with the greenback for the first time in more than three decades.
Maybe it'll be another 30 years before we see a 60-cent Canadian dollar. Maybe it'll be three years. Back in 2002 -- not so long ago, really -- many Canadians would have scoffed at the idea of parity in so short a time.
My point: The Canadian Tourism Commission's recent move to curtail its marketing efforts in the United States -- revealed in its 2012 annual report, released last week -- is short-sighted at best.
To be sure, the CTC -- a Crown
corporation that acts as a national tourism marketing board -- faces an uphill battle when it comes to luring Americans north of the border. For one thing, its operating budget for 2012 was slashed from $72 million to $58.5 million. But the most obvious hurdle facing the CTC is the relatively strong loonie.
It's hardly surprising that many Americans aren't venturing north, as most of the trappings of travel -- hotels, rental cars, dining and especially drinking -- end up being considerably more expensive in Canada than in the U.S.
Don't get me wrong: Exploring Canada is worth every penny. But American holidaymakers surely perceive it as being similar to the U.S. This could be seen as a positive attribute, given many Americans' skittishness abroad, but why would they visit Banff National Park (pictured below), say, when she could explore Montana's nearby Glacier National Park for considerably less? Why visit Toronto when there's Chicago? Why visit Whistler when there's Vail?
Photo by Kevin McNeal/Bournemouth News/Rex Features