MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The currency exchange rate is making it hard for Canadians to travel to the United States. The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce is looking to put the Loonie on par with American dollars to continue to attract Canadians to the area.
Many snowbird Canadians are penny pinching this year; they are looking to save money. Peter White, a snowbird Canadian living in Myrtle Beach, said it has been hard since he came to visit in December.
"Well our dollar in Canada has dropped fairly quickly. So I don't think at the start we realized what the impact would be," White said. "Basically what we've done here is probably doing less going out to restaurants, attractions, that sort of thing."
Brad Dean, President of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, said Canadian tourism is very strong in the area, particularly because Canadians find this destination more reasonably priced.
Dean says the exchange rate and currency evaluation could make an impact on the local economy. "Unfortunately due to the exchange rate and currency evaluation it's more expensive for Canadians to travel to the U.S. now than ever, and that's making it more difficult for local businesses to attract Canadian visitors, and when those visitors arrive in the Grand Strand they can't spend nearly as much money as they would because of that currency value," explained Dean.
John Forde, a visitor from Canada, arrived in January and plans to stay in Myrtle Beach until March. He says he has been spending a lot of his time looking for deals and bargains to help offset the costs. "I multiply the rate of 1.5, so like I paid $80 for groceries, so generally I multiply that by 1.5 and I paid $120 for about $80 worth of groceries," Forde explained while using the calculator on his cell phone.
Forde, like other Canadians, is trying to take advantage of the deals that are being offered in the new 'Dollar For Dollar Deals' promotion. Canadians can save up to 60 percent on hotels, resorts and other lodging. They also can save up to 35 percent on restaurant and attraction deals.
Dean said, "We're working with local businesses to make it more affordable so those Canadians can continue to come to the Grand Strand."
Dean said the exchange rate, and currency evaluation is making it difficult for local businesses to attract Canadians; he hopes the promotion will help overcome the financial hurdles the exchange rate has created.
"The fact is if you are living in Canada and the currency evaluation is 25 to 30 percent off, nothing is as affordable as it used to be," stated Dean.
However, Dean said MBACC will do everything they can to keep Canadian visitors coming to the Grand Strand.
Forder said he is not sure how much of a help the deals will be for those, like him, that are on a fixed income. "$25 for two is not bad, but $38 in Canadian funds is getting a little steep," said Forde.
The Dollar for Dollar Deals is timely. It runs through April 30. It also allows visitors to take advantage of the 55th Annual CanAm Days Festival, scheduled for March 12 through 20, 2016. The festival celebrates Canadian heritage and the snowbirds that travel to the area this time of year.
However, some Canadians can't help to wonder what kind of impact the exchange rate will have on the economy. "The biggest issue is probably how tight people's finances are, there will always be people who come that are better off, but people on tight incomes will have to scale back or not come at all, " said White.