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Locals flocking to warmer climes this winter

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Besides turning up the heat and wearing warmer clothes, one thing the bitter temperatures have inspired a lot of local residents to do is seek warmer climates.

“It’s been really busy,” Pat Herr of International Travel Services said about local residents booking trips south. “And I think it’s because of the cold snap that we had.

“It was like ‘Get me out of here asap, for as cheap as possible.’”

The cold weather absolutely is spurring people to head to warmer destinations, agreed Wendy Spottiswood of Border Travel, who said business definitely has picked up since the cold weather gripped Borderland.

“For warm destinations, this is the busy time of year for travel agencies,” Spottiswood added. “The winter is the busy time. January specifically.”

And where are people headed?

“Cuba is pretty popular this year, and then places like the Mayan Riviera outside of Cancun are probably the two most,” noted Herr.

“The Dominican, or Punta Cana and Porta Plata, Cancun,” echoed Spottiswood.

Despite the sharp downturn in the economy, Spottiswood doesn’t believe it’s had an effect so far on business, pointing out there are some good deals now.

And even though the loonie has dropped in value compared to the U.S. greenback, that hasn’t had a huge impact, either, since so many people are heading to places other than the States, she added.

“I have been hearing that for the island flights to St. Kitts, to St. Martin, those upper-class islands, I call them upper-class anyway, I think they’re hurting more than say Cuba or Mexico, Dominican,” Herr remarked.

It’s these places where people rent out their condos and such to vacationers, she noted, and they seem to be having a harder time doing that, resulting in some possible price drops.

Otherwise, Herr is finding the average trip cost is still coming out to about the same as before—around about $1,200 for, say, a four-star hotel and up.

“[The low dollar] does affect people’s minds,” she added. “Because a lot of people, for example, booked when our dollars were at par, and you would only have to pay a deposit and then [the] balance is due, so now your trip is worth maybe 20 percent more than it was.

“So, yes, I do think the dollar has something to do with it. I don’t think it stops people from travelling, it just makes you think twice.

“I think the cold snap really helped for people who were kind of on the bubble for ‘Should we wait and see?’” Herr continued. “The cold snap hit and it was like, ‘I don’t care, I’m going anyways!’”

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