ORLANDO, Fla. — Around this time of year, Joel and Lorraine Leydier usually make their annual drive from their home in a small town east of Toronto to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where they love watching the beach from the balcony of their hotel, shopping and listening to music at The Carolina Opry.
Cross-border shopping, reversed: Canadian outlet malls set to be packed with Americans
As holiday shopping ramps up, it’s likely that this year there will be more than a few U.S. license plates in the parking lots at Canada’s outlet malls, as the flow of cross-border traffic has begun to reverse
But this year, they’re staying in Canada due to the weak dollar, and other Canadians are doing the same. Visits by the United States’ largest supply of international visitors are forecast to be down by eight per cent this year and another one per cent next year. By comparison, overall international visits to the United States are expected to be up a half per cent this year and up more than 2.5 per cent next year.
Still, some 21.1 million Canadians are expected to come to the United States this year, making up almost 30 per cent of the U.S.’s international visitors.
“We will probably hold off until the dollar straightens itself out a bit,” said Joel Leydier, a retiree from Cobourg, Ontario, adding: “For sure, I’m going to miss the warm weather.”
The loonie this year has dropped to its lowest level against the U.S. dollar in more than a decade. The loonie has slid 25 per cent against the U.S. dollar in the past three years and now is worth, in the ballpark, of 75 cents.
After Canada, the biggest sources of international tourists in the United States are Mexico, with a forecast of 17.9 million visitors this year; the United Kingdom, 4.4 million visitors; Japan, 3.5 million visitors; and Brazil, 2.3 million visitors.
In Florida, where 4.2 million Canadians vacation annually, Canadian visits are down 1.4 per cent for the first three quarters of the year, even though overall tourism is up by 5.5 per cent, and Florida is on the path to break the 100 million visitors mark. Florida is the second most-popular state for Canadian visitors, trailing only New York.