RV Tips and Tricks

Could the dipping dollar and warming temperatures bring snowbirds to B.C.?

A number of loonies sitting on top of an American dollar bill.
Could snowbirding in B.C. be the new trend? — Photo courtesy Bank of Canada

In common with other sectors of the tourism market, Canadian, U.S. and international RVers enjoyed a wonderful summer in British Columbia, Alberta and beyond.

Kevin Demers, owner and president of BC-based Holiday Trails RV Resorts, said 2015 has been one of the best ever in his parks.

“All our Vancouver Island parks were full, as were our parks at Bridal Falls, Manning Park, Alberta and the one we have in Washington State,” he said.

“Reservations were up across the board, it’s been a great year.”

At Lower Mainland RV parks, travelers from Quebec, Alberta, the United States and many parts of Europe swelled the ranks of visitors who arrived wall-to-wall all summer.

Although many travelers were dismayed by the terrible wildfires that erupted in July and August, RVers who stayed in West Vancouver as a jumping-off point or for their last few vacation days seemed to take fire or smoke-caused changes to their travel plans in their stride.

Not only that, it was heart-warming to hear them more concerned for our forests and for the welfare of residents and animals that were being evacuated, than they were about any inconveniences of their own.

Three main factors appear to have played a role in creating the increased RV tourism: the prolonged May to September sunshine, the low Canadian dollar that attracted more than the usual number of visitors from across the border and the sagging oil-industry economy that kept many Albertans closer to home.

When I asked Demers how he thought a continuation of the current exchange rate and the El Niño weather pattern that is forecast for our B.C. winter might affect Snowbirds’ decisions, he found that hard to predict.

“Psychologically, when Canadians look at paying 25 to 35 per cent more on the dollar, some of them are saying that would be a deterrent. U.S. prices would have to be a lot lower to counter that,” he said.

“In a normal season, Snowbird parks in the Phoenix area, Palm Springs and other popular destinations would be fully booked; right now they’re not,” Demers said.

So if our weather remains unusually mild and the dollar continues well under par, there are ways in which decisions made by wintering RVers might continue B.C’s tourism momentum well into next year.

Applying that theory to the Snowbird community, an El Niño added to B.C.’s normally milder climates could result in Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands’ destinations being seen as affordable, attractive alternatives to crossing the border for RVers who want to escape the harsher winters of Northern B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and beyond.


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