Is Canada the Boring Girl Next Door?
Travel from the United States to Canada fell by 8.1 percent in the first part of this year, compared with 2006. The 2006 rates were also down from 2005.
Such figures miff fans of Canada to no end. Our neighbor to the north has some stunning attractions to offer visitors. Among them: one of the best theater scenes in North America in Toronto, a real food lover's dream in Montreal and one of the world's most aesthetically splendid urban areas anywhere in Vancouver. But wait, there's much more: pristine parks, majestic mountains and pretty easy access from the Eastern seaboard.
So why the downturn in visitors?
"For years we have made the point that we're pristine, clean and friendly," Monica Campbell-Hoppe, director of media relations for the Canadian Tourism Commission, told me in an interview. "But I think travelers think of us as lacking adventure, excitement and sexiness." In other words, the land of the maple leaf, in the view of some, is just one big snooze.
Another possible reason for the decline: the crumbling strength of the U.S. dollar in Canada. Four years ago, you could snag one Canadian dollar for around 80 cents. At last glance, the rate was 96 U.S. cents for a Canadian dollar, and inching closer to par. To be sure, the greenback has also lost ground to the euro, pound and other currencies.
Passport issues may also have deterred Americans from even thinking about Canada in the past year. Lack of clarity over whether or when a passport is needed to get across the border may have turned off many potential visitors, Campbell-Hoppe said.
But the biggest reason, she concluded: "We need to project ourselves as more exciting."
Or are there other reasons why Canada seems to be falling out of favor with U.S. travelers?
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