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Inflation, strong U.S. dollar will weigh on snowbirds' plans, experts say

High inflation and a strong U.S. dollar will weigh heavily on Canadian snowbirds this winter, experts say.

As the cold months approach, Snowbird Advisor president Stephen Fine said some snowbirds are opting for a shorter travel period or eyeing different destinations due to the rising cost of everything combined with a weak Canadian dollar.

Snowbirds will have a lot more to consider this coming winter as the price of accommodation, groceries and dining out have all risen, Fine said.

He also said that snowbirds may opt for more cost-effective destinations outside of the U.S., including Mexico, Costa Rica and Belize and do a four-month stay rather than the typical six.

President of insurance provider Travel Secure Inc., Martin Firestone said that the low performing Canadian dollar will impact those who typically fly south for the winter the most out of all travellers.

However, not all experts agree as the Canadian Snowbird Association director of research and communications, Evan Rachkovsky said that he expects a near-full post-pandemic recovery in the number of snowbirds who travel south this winter.

“If we look back to the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Canadian dollar was trading at 62 to 63 cents against the US dollar, and Canadian snowbirds at that time continued to travel south, and we expect more of the same this season,” said Rachkovsky.

While domestic flights remain strong, there has been a slight decline in the number of Canadian flights to the U.S. that is expected to continue this season, in part, due to the strong U.S. dollar, said Helane Becker, an analyst for banking firm Cowen.

It is not only travel to the U.S. that will be impacted however, as Firestone said that Canadian travellers will likely notice the affects of inflation wherever they go.

“If anything is going to be impacted it is going to be the discretionary spending of snowbirds when they’re stateside,” said Rachkovsky.

The Canadian dollar traded for 72.85 cents US at the close of markets Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2022.

Caitlin Yardley, The Canadian Press