Watch that dollar

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It’s human nature to take a little bit of bad news and blow it out of proportion.  The recent announcement of a fee increase at Marine Atlantic has tourism operators wondering if they’ll see a downturn in the number of visitors this year, when really, in all probability, if the numbers do drop, it won’t be by very much.

Fee increases at Marine Atlantic probably won’t cause the death of tourism in this province any time soon.

In fact, there’s something else that could actually override any effects those increases could have that is happening right now, and that is the decline of the Canadian dollar.

Like it or not, when our loonie was weaker a few years ago this country benefitted on a local and regional level. American tourism was at extremely high levels and, arguably more importantly, manufacturing was way up as well.

There were call centres in the Maritimes employing literally thousands of people servicing U.S. markets and the auto industry sold more vehicles south of the border. When the Canadian dollar became stronger, a lot of that went away.

Those minor fee increases won’t mean much if we’re an attractive place for U.S. tourists to come spend their money, and get more for that money. If we start trading more as a result of the dollar value switch, it’s still a win-win situation for this province.

That’s not to excuse Marine Atlantic for raising the fees. It was expensive enough for both residents and tourists alike to cross the gulf before, and now it’s even worse. Perhaps other options, like a tunnel, should be discussed again.

But in the meantime, like it or not, we are still mainly a resources and service-based nation that is heavily dependent upon fluctuating markets.

If our dollar does go down further than it has been, at least there’s an upside.

Organizations: Marine Atlantic

Geographic location: U.S.

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