Sacco: Experience Scottsdale continues pursuit of the Canadian tourist

Last year, nearly 880,000 Canadians flocked to Arizona, despite the rising costs associated with traveling to the U.S.

Rachel Sacco

By promoting new flights and deep discounts, Experience Scottsdale hopes to entice even more of our northern friends to fly south to Scottsdale this winter and spring.

Canadians represent approximately 26 percent of all international arrivals to the U.S., according to the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office.

Although the declining value of the Canadian dollar, or “loonie,” has made it costlier for Canadians to travel to the U.S., Canada remains Arizona’s top-grossing international market by overall expenditures.

To offset the costs associated with travel, however, Experience Scottsdale debuted the “Loonie Love” campaign two years ago when the loonie first declined. Last fiscal year, our dedicated website,, saw a 160 percent increase in traffic from the year prior. We’re hoping to keep that momentum going with the launch of the third iteration of the campaign this month.

Experience Scottsdale is promoting “Loonie Love” throughout January via a dedicated leisure email and digital ads on The Weather Network (Canada’s version of The Weather Channel),, Facebook and Google.

With “Loonie Love,” we curate vacation packages and deals that Scottsdale-area hotels, restaurants, golf courses, spas and tour operators created with Canadian visitors in mind. Canadians favor shopping, dining, sightseeing and outdoor activities, and with “Loonie Love” offers, they save on bike rentals from Arizona Outback Adventures and spa treatments at Spa Lamar. Like many Scottsdale businesses, both Arizona Outback Adventures and Spa Lamar have ties to Canada.

Arizona Outback Adventures president Seth Heald hails from Prince Edward Island, and Spa Lamar owner Heidi Lamar is a dual citizen who splits her time between Toronto and Scottsdale. Beyond highlighting the value of a Scottsdale vacation, Experience Scottsdale continually promotes convenient flight service between Canada and Arizona to encourage more Canadians to book vacations and meetings business in Scottsdale.

It’s easier than ever for visitors from our top markets of Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton to travel to Scottsdale, because American Airlines, WestJet and Air Canada offer daily and weekly flights to Phoenix.

Next month, Air Canada will offer a new seasonal flight from Montreal to Phoenix. The non-stop flight will operate three times a week through the end of May, serving thousands of winter visitors, part-time residents and business travelers.

In recent months, Experience Scottsdale has spread the word about the new Montreal flight. In November, we partnered with Arizona Office of Tourism to host travel writers from Montreal in Scottsdale. That same month, our staff was on the ground in Montreal, pitching media on all of Scottsdale’s offerings and amenities. And next month, to coincide with the launch of the new flight, our tourism team will educate Montreal travel agents on how best to sell Scottsdale to their clients.

No matter the strength of the loonie, Canadians will always be loonie for Scottsdale. Through marketing and promotion, Experience Scottsdale hopes to ensure that never changes.

Editor’s note: Ms. Sacco is the president and CEO of Experience Scottsdale.

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