Could Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games benefit from US tourism with low Canadian dollar?

Canada's Jeremy Bordeleau from Dartmouth, N.S., Chris Pellini from Mississauga, Ont., Mark de Jonge from Halifax, and Angus Mortimer, from Ottawa, left to right, race to a silver medal in the men's 1000 metres K-4 race at the Pan Am Games in Rio de Janeiro on Friday, July 27, 2007. (CP Photo/Andrew Vaughan)

While the low Canadian dollar has cast a shadow of uncertainty over the economic outlook of the nation, could it be a potential boon for the 2015 Pan Am Games in the Greater Toronto Area?

According to the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation (OTMPC), annual expenditures from US tourists in Ontario was $3.3 billion in 2012 and is increasing.  The figure is expected to grow to $5 billion by 2017.

Once again, as in past cycles, a sliding loonie will give Americans a favourable rate to stretch their greenback north of the border.

But will they choose to take advantage of a Canadian dollar that as of Wednesday slipped below 80 cents U.S. for the first time in six years?

“Who knows about it?” said Marc Lavoie, an economics professor at the University of Ottawa.  “We do, because we see it on TV every night and because we go to Florida but do Americans know about it?  The answer is probably no except for maybe those that live near the border.”

While OTMPC and Tourism Toronto have targeted US border cities located within close proximity to the GTA in various ways, currently there does not seem to be any added incentive as the Canadian dollar sinks.

“We are going to market it as much as we can regardless,” said Andrew Weir, executuve vice president of Tourism Toronto.  “No matter where the Canadian dollar is we could never take our foot of the gas pedal.”

The Pan Am Games take place from July 10-26 followed by the Para Pan Am Games which run Aug. 7-15.

Toronto Tourism has tried to create awareness south of the border by targeting amateur and even recreational level athletic clubs in sports such as judo, swimming and gymnastics as opposed to a blanket approach to the mass market.

“People who compete in these sports are more likely to be interested in seeing elite athletes compete in the first place” said Weir.  “We provide marketing tool kits about visiting Toronto to these clubs for their members.”

Meanwhile the OTMPC released the snazzy “Invade” commercial (seen above) in the fall to market the games in consultation with the Toronto 2015 organizing committee.  The ad aired in Buffalo, Syracuse and Rochester NY.

While The OTMPC does not have any research pointing to a low dollar as a driving factor for those in places like Michigan, New York  Ohio, and Pennsylvania to attend the games, added reason for lovers of athletic competition to make the trek is always welcomed.

“We know the type of growth the US economic recovery is allowing for,” said president and CEO Ronald Holgerson. "Anything that helps tourists choose Ontario is a good thing.”

More on the Pan Am Games on Yahoo Canada Sports:

 Follow Neil Acharya on Twitter: @Neil_Acharya

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