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Low loonie could boost tourism in Bay of Quinte

By Charlotte McParland [1]

BELLEVILLE–In the Bay of Quinte area, a region surrounded by wine country in Prince Edward County, provincial parks and world-renowned fishing, the low Canadian dollar could help bring in more Americans and keep Canadians at home, the local tourist council predicts.

The loonie has lost 16 per cent of its value this year, and is currently trading at 73 cents U.S. It’s one of the lowest levels in recent history for Canada’s currency.

According to the Bank of Canada [2], the dollar has had a steady decline since 2012, when it was almost at par with the American dollar. But despite the drop, not all sectors of the Canadian economy will be hurting.

Dug Stevenson of Bay of Quinte Tourism [3] says that his organization will be focusing 100 per cent on bringing in and targeting new visitors to the area for the next season.

“Usually it’s people from the (Greater Toronto Area) east, as it’s only a two-hour drive to come up for the weekend. But now we are really focusing on outside of Canada more recently,” Stevenson told QNet News last week.

Because of Quinte’s proximity to the U.S. border and lower gas prices, the number of visitors from the States is starting to grow, he said.

In the last half of 2015, there were 1.8 million border entries by tourists flocking into Ontario, who targeted the Bay of Quinte as their destination, quoted Stevenson.

Winter is not the area’s most popular season, but because of the low dollar, more Americans than usual have come to the Bay of Quinte this year to ice fish for the region’s world-class walleye, he said.

According to the latest Statistics Canada numbers from 2012, 3.2 million people came to the Bay of Quinte for tourism, with 400,000 of those specifically for the fishing, Stevenson said.

“This is what we call the ‘Quinte gold,’ because people come from all over to fish the trophy walleye. They are over 10 pounds here in Bay of Quinte, while only three or four pounds in the United States,” he said.

The golf packages and unique courses locally have also been a target marketing area for Bay of Quinte Tourism, which promotes the area as part of The Great Waterway [4] – a strip of tourist areas in Eastern Ontario. There are over 23 golf courses in this area, and five premier resorts, Stevenson said.

“We have gained over $100,000 in advertising funding for marketing internationally from the provincial government to bring in more tourists to the area because of the falling dollar,”  said Stevenson.