Unfavorable exchange rate hurts tourism from Canada
KALISPELL, Mont. - The current Canadian dollar is worth $0.75 for every U.S. dollar, and businesses we talked to say they're seeing fewer customers coming from the north.
"We've seen a little decline in Canadian traffic," Amazing Crepe owner Todd Horning said. "It's a very big part of our business."
Horning has been making crepes since 2005, when he started his business in a food truck. Now he cooks crepes in prime real estate in downtown Whitefish, and he understands how important it is for the customers to come to him, especially tourists.
Horning said between 15 and 20 percent of his business is made up of Canadian tourists.
Cori Armaly, the general manager at the Craggy Range, says there's "definitely" a decline in Canadian tourists.
According to the Whitefish Chamber of Commerce executive director Kevin Gartland, "The Canadian business is probably down 70-80 percent from what it was at the peak."
According to the Whitefish Convention and Visitor's Bureau, 2015 saw 17 percent of its visitors from Alberta, while 2016 saw only 9 percent.
They also say when the exchange rate is below 80 cents on the dollar, Canadians travel over the border less.
Gartland says some businesses are offering to pay the 25-cent difference for Canadian tourists.
"The Canadians helped us through our recession, and I think there's a lot of folks here who appreciate that," Gartland said. "I know there are. They're trying to offer something back, so you see a lot of the hotels offering discounts to Canadian customers."
Gartland says the exchange rate isn't the only factor. He says low oil prices are contributing to Alberta's recession and 8.3 percent unemployment.
Horning says he's optimistic for the future, "I still see a few Alberta license plates. We definitely enjoy the company from our northern neighbors."
Horning and businesses throughout the region are hoping for a lot of company come this summer.??