MEDICINE HAT, AB – Like Canadian geese along the South Saskatchewan River, many around Medicine Hat are looking at flying south this winter.
David Phillips with Environment Canada said this year’s winter severity is still up in the air due in part to a La Nina system off the Pacific coast.
“[It] tends to produce a colder than normal kind of a winter, but it's a weak La Nina,” said Phillips. “So, it's not as if it's going to be brutal, I think what it will be is more of an up and down, back and forth.”
Still, the winter months allow a chance for people to escape the cold and head to sunnier destinations.
Brittany Paun is a travel councillor for Fareconnect in Medicine Hat, and said September’s hurricanes in the Caribbean are still having an effect on tourism in the region.
“Because of the hurricanes that we've had, there's a lot of people that are going back to their staples,” said Paun. “So, like Mexico, Cuba, and that kind of stuff.”
One positive is that the hurricanes didn’t affect too many of the Caribbean islands that are reached by direct flights out of Calgary.
Those north of the border are still having to deal with a lower Canadian dollar however, sitting at around 78 cents U.S. after taking its biggest dive of the year in October according to the National Bank of Canada.
Partly due to the economy, most people we spoke to are putting their dream winter vacation on the back-burner for something closer to home.
According to Medicine Hat College business instructor Glen Allan, minor shifts in the Canadian dollar likely won’t cause major issues for vacationers though.
“If it's down five percent or it makes it a little bit more expensive, I think people don't really change their plans,” said Allan. “But if the change or weak dollar stays, it might affect future plans.”
As for the United States, Las Vegas remains a popular destination for local tourists despite last month’s shooting that killed 58 people and left over 500 injured.
Paun said travellers have to weigh the risks of different locations around the globe, but added all cities have their own dangers.
“They realize that it doesn't matter where you go,” she said. “You can go to the US, you can go to Mexico, you can go anywhere and there's going to be danger. There's danger here in our own backyard, you just have to travel smart.”
Paun added other popular spots in America this winter include Phoenix, Arizona and California, with their peak winter 'wave season' coming in only a few weeks.
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