Published July 1, 2006 | July 2006 issue
Now that the [difference] has come back to around 10-12 percent ... [Black Hills businesses] have felt some increase. They can't give me a percentage; just common sense tells you, yes, it's going to help. But as far as this year, we normally won't see any Canadian traffic until starting after about June 15th. Their schools get out later; they don't get traveling until after that. So I can't get any good feel on that until probably getting into August. The second problem is that when the [difference] got up so high, both the state of South Dakota and Black Hills, Badlands and Lakes (Assoc.) started dropping their advertising money out of Canada, because it just didn't make sense at that time. We have not reinstated that to the portion that we feel it should be.
Gary Brown, Chairman
Black Hills, Badlands and Lakes Assoc.— Rapid City, S.D.
The Canadian business has always been huge for the Flathead Valley, and the reason being is that the Flathead Valley is such a playground for the Canadians, and a lot of them have second and third homes here. We noticed when the exchange rate was so high it really hurt us. And they are coming back; they're coming back strong. ... It's to the point where a lot of our cash registers are already programmed to take Canadian funds and to do all the conversions.
Meg Lindberg, Manager
Kalispell Center Mall—Kalispell, Mont.
We definitely are seeing more Canadian traffic. Typically, we do in the summer months, especially Canadians from Manitoba [who] like to come down for long weekend getaways. Many times they tie into their holidays as well. But we definitely are seeing more license plates at the shopping centers, more license plates actually all over the community. ... With regard to specific numbers, it's kind of hard to tell at this point because a lot of our reports come in two months after. So I don't have any reports that say definitely they're up, but we certainly are seeing higher traffic at this point.
Julie Rygg, Executive Director
Greater Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau—Grand Forks, N.D.
Yeah, I think it is increasing. I certainly have seen a lot more [Canadian] traffic on Highway 2, which is the big artery up here. I think that probably our records would show a lot more people from Canada. ... They drive normally through Minnesota, on the North Shore route. And a lot of people are doing the circle tours of Lake Superior now. ... I would say that [we're getting more Canadian visits], yeah. I don't think it's a number that just jumps right out, but clearly there is an increase.
Mark Phillips, Marketing Manager/Co-owner
Old Rittenhouse Inn—Bayfield, Wis.
Anytime the Canadian dollar exchange rate increases, it's always good for business. And it has always been historically that way, as the rate increases, the more [money] Canadians feel that they have left in disposable income to come down and have some fun. ... From a historical perspective, anytime the exchange rate has gone up, we've always come to realize that there were more and more folks coming to the casino.
Steven StandingCloud, Enterprise Administrator
Grand Portage Lodge and Casino and Trading Post—Grand Portage, Minn.
[O]ur records indicate that in 2002, the exchange rate was at its lowest, about a little bit above 0.62 and increased to I think it's about 0.88 currently. By comparison, the total bridge crossing dropped from about 2,070,000 in 2002 to about 1,930,000 in 2005. So it appears that with the increasing strength of the Canadian dollar, traffic is actually dropping. We certainly believe that the bridge traffic is driven by other things in addition to the currency exchange. ... [T]he higher buying power of the Canadian dollar certainly motivates our Canadian customers to take advantage of the additional buying power and cross the border.
Phil Becker, Manager/Engineer
International Bridge—Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.