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Canadian Tourists Spend Less in US

January 4, 1998

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) _ Canadians are again migrating south to their favorite winter getaway, but they won’t be spending as much as they usually do, tourism officials say.

With the U.S. dollar performing well against its Canadian counterpart, Canadian tourists flocking to Florida are finding things a lot costlier this year. Instead of staying home, they seem to be spending less.

``Before spending money here, we think twice about it to see if it’s worth it,″ said Celine Belanger, 35, who was visiting from Quebec with her husband and two children. ``We fix our own meals, instead of going out to eat.″

The Canadian dollar closed on Friday at .7017, which means it takes $1.43 in Canadian money to match one American dollar.

At one point last week the Canadian dollar dipped below 70 U.S. cents. The lowest the Canadian dollar has ever been was 69.11 cents in 1986.

Florida tourism officials say they are not too worried. After all, the main thing Canadians are looking for in Floridas is free: a sunny day at the beach.

``Canadian travel volume seems to be the same as in the past,″ said Jill Mross, AAA Travel Agency spokeswoman. ``What may be shifting is the length of stay, to a shorter stay.″

Even though it was overcast and raining on Saturday, Canadian tourists could be found all along the Oceanwalk, a boardwalk lined with shops and restaurants parallel to Hollywood Beach.

Despite the traffic, businesses that depend on Canadian winter are worried.

``This is the worst year of business we’ve had,″ said Michelle De Grace, owner of Quebec Hair Style. ``Usually, we are packed, but today we have nothing.″