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Expert Advice: Oh Canada!




By Anne McCaw

 


Opportunities are looking up as the country’s dollar remains low

As the strength of the American dollar continues to grow, the Canadian dollar is at an all-time low, valued at about $1.30 per every one U.S. dollar. That is as low as it’s been in 11 years, which is creating really strong buying power for groups interested in traveling across the border. For example, if you consider contract and rate negotiations and then take a third off of the top, you can see how cost effective it can be to bring conferences, meetings, and incentive programs up north. Of course, there are some other advantages, too:

It’s your passport to a familiar but foreign destination. There are plenty of similarities between America and Canada—the language, cuisine, and currency are all familiar—but the differences allow your group an experience from another world. Depending on what part of the country you visit, you’ll find a different European atmosphere. In the Maritimes, the eastern provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Price Edward Island, and Newfoundland, you’ll find a strong nautical history and heritage of Scots and Irish Celts. Out west in Victoria, British culture is abundant.

Crossing the border is easy. There’s good reason inbound traffic is increasing to Canada, particularly from the U.S., which gave tourism an 8% boost in 2015 according to Statistics Canada. The country is accessible by both land and air from most American hubs, and with prices continuing to drop at the gas pump, many are opting to travel by car or coach.

Facilities are modernizing just about everywhere. The Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance has been promoting Canada as a preferred sports destination, and acquiring a number of major sporting events in the process, such as the Olympic Games in Vancouver, Pan Am Games in Toronto, and the women’s FIFA championship in recent years. As such, a lot of money and effort has been put into updating facilities in many provinces to support the new business sector. That includes a number of college and university campuses that have played host.

There’s a little something for everyone. In 2015, the International Congress & Convention Association reported their top 10 list of meeting destinations in North America, and Canada appeared three times in the top 5 (Vancouver at #1, Toronto at #2, and Montreal at #5). Perhaps it’s because all the different regions cater to different tastes. Corporate retreats can find themselves at home in Banff and the Canadian Rockies or even planning an urban adventure in Vancouver or Victoria. Those looking for a metropolitan experience will love Toronto while those favoring old world charm can look to Quebec.

It’s also a time for Canadians to consider staying home. With our buying power so much weaker traveling abroad, now is the time to promote Canada to locals, too. With so much to see and do, consider a different experience such as taking your meeting to the prairies or Newfoundland—or anywhere you might not have thought of hosting a group in the past. 
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