Plunging loonie could boost Ottawa film, tourism industries

Lucy Scholey
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There may be an upside to the loonie being down – at least when it comes to Ottawa's local film and tourism industry.

(Stock image)

The Canadian dollar's drop may entice American producers and tourists to take a closer look at the nation's capital.

Ottawa is no movie production powerhouse compared to Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. But because production is already high in those cities, smaller cities like Ottawa should see a boost in filmmaking, according to Invest Ottawa Film Commissioner Bruce Harvey.

“Local producer Zed Filmworks was already anticipating a very busy year. The lower loonie should result in near capacity levels for them in 2016,” he said in an email.

But local production companies filming for Canadian viewers, like the CBC, might take a hit this year, he said, especially if they are purchasing unique props, or hiring American actors.

Don’t expect a deluge of American film sets popping up in the capital. Rather than send crews to Canada this year, bigger production companies may take out Canadian currency now for future projects.

Ottawa Tourism is not expecting a flood of American tourists either, but a “modest” increase, said communications director Jantine Van Kregten. By the end of September last year, the number of New York visitors who stayed in Ottawa-area hotels rose by 4.4 per cent compared to the previous year. Overnight hotel stays for other U.S. travellers increased 7.5 per cent, according to Ottawa Tourism figures.

Canadian snowbirds upset about a more expensive winter down south may also opt for a staycation, which is what Ottawa Tourism is hoping for.

"Not that it's a tit-for-tat comparison, but ... it's more affordable to do a Canadian holiday than a U.S. holiday for Canadians," said Ms. Van Kregten.

The Canadian loonie’s value dropped by a third of a cent on Wednesday, down to just below 69 cents to the U.S. dollar. 

This article originally appeared on on Jan. 20.

Organizations: Ottawa Tourism, CBC

Geographic location: Ottawa, U.S., Vancouver Toronto Montreal Canada New York

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