Vancouver tourist industry gears up for 2010 Olympics
The Canadian dollar hit a three-year low last week while I was vacationing in Vancouver, B.C., and it contributed to a gloomy outlook for the economy. The last time the dollar traded below 80 cents was in June 2005. It climbed to the equivalent of 1.
The Canadian dollar hit a three-year low last week while I was vacationing in Vancouver, B.C., and it contributed to a gloomy outlook for the economy. The last time the dollar traded below 80 cents was in June 2005. It climbed to the equivalent of 1.087 in June 2007. It has since lost as much as 28 percent of its value, but keeps posting gains.
Things were bad last week, but you wouldn't know it from talking to desk clerks at the Hampton Inn, cab drivers or the LandSea tour guide named Greg we met when we took the ferry over to Victoria, B.C. The Canadians seemed cheery and upbeat. And there was a story in one of the Canadian newspapers saying people in the tourist industry should get down on their knees each night before going to bed and give thanks for the Olympics coming in 2010.
The Olympics is their ace in the hole. While the turbulent economy has caused a decrease in tourist trade, the promise of the Olympics shines like gold around the city. Tour guides talk of the new subway system and other improvements under way.
As tourists, we went directly to the Bank of Montreal to get about $1.20 in Canadian dollars for our U.S. dollars. This is a happy time for tourists in Canada because the U.S. dollar goes a long way right now in the land of loonies and toonies, the Canadian $1 and $2 coins.
With or without the favorable currency, visitors bask in the beauty of Vancouver. A guide told us the city itself has about 500,000 people, and the metro area about 2.5 million. A prime winter attraction is the nearby ski resort, Whistler. And people make trips to Grouse Mountain. Vancouver had a large Asian population, estimated at 330,000, and one of the first things they show you is the vast, orderly Chinatown area. On bus tours, you visit the Gastown area of specialty shops and the Robson Street shopping area. The Big Bus Tour takes you to Granville Island. And to Stanley Park where totem poles tell the history of the region and you look out to the sea.
In Vancouver, you get your temperature in Celsius and you hear a lot of French spoken. You can find a Starbucks coffee shop on almost every corner. At the Hampton Inn where we stayed, there were speed skaters in training for Olympic competition.
We liked the Hampton Inn because it was small and the staff was friendly and helpful. In fact, we did not run into a grouch during our week in Canada.
We noticed signs that said petro was $1.17 a liter and some was as low as $1.08 a liter when we got back to Winnipeg. When you realize it takes about four liters to make one of our gallons, you know they are paying much more than $4 U.S. for a gallon of gas. They don't seem to complain. An attendant in a Starbucks shop told me gas had been higher. Then he just quit driving.
Snow is rare. Rain is the norm in Vancouver. And you find umbrellas in the tour buses, the hotel rooms.
We spent 36 hours on Via Canada Rail getting to Vancouver from Winnipeg. It took 2½ hours on WestJet to fly back to Winnipeg.
Sioux fans will gather at noon today in Ralph Engelstad Arena to talk about the weekend UND-Wisconsin hockey series ... As well as women's hockey hosting Ohio State ... Sioux football faithful are on their way to see the UND play Dale Lennon's team at Southern Illinois on Saturday... Jaycees are hosting Halloween Treat Street tonight in the Alerus Center ... Ghosts and goblins will be out tonight saying, "trick or treat" ... The annual round of church bazaars is under way, with the 32nd annual Craft Guild holiday sale Saturday at the Grand Forks County Historical Society Myra Museum ... The annual Holy Family Tea and Bazaar is Saturday ... Along with bazaars at Sharon Lutheran, Federated and Augustana Lutheran churches ... Central High School is presenting "And Never Been Kissed" this weekend ... Daylight-saving time ends when you go to bed Saturday night and set your clock back one hour ... The concert series continues Sunday afternoon at North Dakota Museum of Art with Trio Verve ... UND President Robert and Marcia Kelley invite the community to tour the new University House at 1 Yale Drive on Sunday afternoon ... And Trans-Siberian Orchestra performs Sunday evening at the Alerus Center ...
Be of good cheer
Cheerful person of the week: Sandy Rios. Runner-up: Owen Graupe.
Reach Hagerty at email@example.com or by telephone at (701) 772-1055.