Americans set another record for quick round-trips to Canada in July, making a seasonally adjusted 2.4 million same-day visits.
The count represents a 3.1 percent climb from June's 2.32 million quick visits, according to Statistics Canada, the Canadian government agency that tracks international travel activity. Once again, the comparatively strong U.S. dollar is seen as a key motivator for the increased visits.
In July, the U.S. dollar was worth $1.48 in Canada, enhancing the lure of cross-border shopping. But despite the less-than-favorable exchange rate for Canadian visitors to the U.S. (67 cents), they also boosted their same-day trip numbers in July. For the month, the count for those quick journeys was up 2.8 percent from 2.17 million in June, to 2.23 million in July.
July also marked the 18th consecutive month in which the number of Americans making overnight trips to Canada exceeded the number of Canadians spending one or more nights in the U.S. Americans stayed at least one night in Canada on 1.3 million occasions in July, up 4.8 percent from June.
The number of overnight trips by U.S. residents has been generally rising since mid-1996, as the favorable exchange rate has made Canada a more compelling vacation destination than ever before.
Canadians took 1.2 million overnight trips south of the border in July, up 1.2 percent from June, the largest number of longer visits in more than a year. Canadian overnight trips peaked in December 1991 when the Canadian dollar was worth 87 cents (US), and plummeted to a low of 986,000 such visits last August when the Loonie was valued at a dismal 65 cents.
In year-to-year comparisons, the four local international bridges saw an increase in same-day visits by both Americans and Canadians. In July, Americans tallied 1,123,174 quick round-trips, a 3.7 percent increase from July 1998's 1,082,663 same-day visits.
The largest gain was recorded on the Peace Bridge, a 9.7 percent jump, from 444,187, to 487,282. The Rainbow Bridge saw a 7.3 percent increase, from 385,976, up to 413,983.
Same-day trips via the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge fell 4.3 percent, from 194,145 visits last July, compared with 185,875 this summer. And once again, the Whirlpool Bridge's new designation as a "CanPass Only" span led to drastic declines in same-day travel, down 38.3 percent, from 58,355 to 36,034.
Heading the opposite direction, the four bridges counted a 5.1 percent increase in same-day trips by Canadians to the U.S. this July, compared with July 1998, with the tally swelling from 355,615 to 373,796.
The largest increases were noted at the Rainbow Bridge, where the same-day head count rose to 106,051, up 9.7 percent from 96,653. The Lewiston-Queenston Bridge reported an 8.8 percent rise, from 113,189 to 123,203, while the tally increased 8 percent at the Peace Bridge, from 116,268 to 125,613.
Again, the Whirlpool Bridge's same-day counts were impacted negatively by the new CanPass rules, dropping traffic by 35.8 percent, from 29,505 to 18,929.