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Canadian shoppers boost mall, hotels

If you ask the merchants at Fargo's West Acres mall, they'll tell you they believe in Santa and Mrs. Claus - and that they may live in Canada. About 8 percent of the mall's after-Thanksgiving Day shoppers - roughly one out of 12 - came from our n...

If you ask the merchants at Fargo's West Acres mall, they'll tell you they believe in Santa and Mrs. Claus - and that they may live in Canada.

About 8 percent of the mall's after-Thanksgiving Day shoppers - roughly one out of 12 - came from our northern neighbor, mall General Manager Rusty Papachek said Monday.

Thanks to exchange rates that put the Canadian dollar at par with the U.S. dollar, Canadians are streaming south in numbers not seen in years, Papachek said.

"It's been many, many years since it's been like this because the exchange rate was so lopsided for so long," he said. "They have made a difference" this shopping season.

The most recent survey was an "intercept" survey that polled shoppers as they entered the mall, Papachek said. A similar survey during the back-to-school season showed 6 percent of shoppers were Canadian, he said.

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"When they come down here, they like to spend money," mostly on clothing, he said.

Local hotels are also a bit more packed.

"It's been great since this summer," said Doug Anselmin, general manager of the Fargo Holiday Inn. "We've seen significant gains" in the third and fourth quarters.

At one point about a month to a month and a half ago, the Holiday Inn saw a 26 percent increase in Canadian contributions to its bottom line from a year before, Anselmin said.

"They're in good spirits and they're spending money and they love where the 'loonie' is in comparison with the dollar," he said.

"There's no question there's a lot more Canadians traveling back to Fargo again," agreed Carol Johnson, general manager of Fargo's Ramada Plaza and Suites Conference Center. "It's nice to have that traffic coming back here again."

The buses and vehicles with the Manitoba license plates in the mall's lot are a nice Christmas gift, Papachek said.

"It is noticeable. You walk through the lot and you see more Manitoba plates, and it is very welcome," he said.

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Tourism campaign travels to Canada

BISMARCK - North Dakota's Tourism Division is putting final touches on its advertising campaign for 2008.

Director Sara Otte Coleman says her division will spend about $500,000 on advertising in Canada. She says that budget was set before the exchange rates became more favorable for Canadians.

Otte Coleman says the campaign will continue to focus on the "legendary" concept in trying to draw visitors to the state.

The tourism director reports more group tours coming from Canada, as well as more individuals. She says border crossings in October were up

23 percent.

Associated Press

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583 Canadian shoppers boost mall, hotels Helmut Schmidt 20071218

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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