Tour operators have mixed feelings about the opening of the US land border on Monday.
The end of the 20-month closure of the world’s longest defenseless border signals a sign that restrictions are loosening and more international leisure travel may be on the horizon.
But if Canadians start traveling south for vacations and shopping, they aren’t spending their money on destinations here.
Chris Bloore, executive director of the Ontario Tourism Industry Association, says that local visits to sights ranging from Niagara region vineyards to Prince Edward County boutique hotels will undoubtedly decline after get a boost last summer.
“There will definitely be a reduction in some numbers, for sure. That is absolutely unavoidable, ”he said.
“But as we begin to welcome international visitors back to Canada, as we try and push for PCR testing, protocol changes, we hope to make sure we are looking further afield so people do too. try. and bring them to us ”.
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Travel and tourism organizations are lobbying the federal government, which opened its border to Americans in August, to end the ongoing COVID-19 test requirement to enter the country.
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Currently, any Canadian returning home by land and wanting to avoid quarantine must provide a recent molecular test showing a negative result. Non-residents who test positive are turned away at the border.
At a cost of $ 150 to $ 300 per test, that can be an expensive proposition, especially for families.
Public Health Director Dr. Theresa Tam said Friday that testing rules for vaccinated travelers should be re-examined, particularly for short trips.
“Unless Canada changes that regulation or that order not to require a PCR test to re-enter the country, I don’t think you will see large volumes of people heading to the United States,” said Walt Judas, director of the Tourism Association of British columbia That’s true for both day trips and longer vacations, he said.
Travelers from British Columbia prepare to head south on the eve of the reopening of the US border.
However, Vancouver Island and British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley are likely to see a major drop in Canadian motorhome and trailer drivers as snowbirds head south.
“Small communities like Osoyoos managed to retain many Canadians who camped in their trailers for the winter. So those people will probably do what they have done in previous years and head to the United States, ”Judas said.
It is not just the camps that will feel the impact of fewer visitors.
“They are all users of other places and facilities and visit grocery stores and eat in restaurants, some may even choose to stay in a hotel for a more localized getaway,” he said.
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But the executive director of the Canadian Tourism Industry Association, Beth Potter, says a border that allows visitors to filter in both directions for non-essential travel is one more step on the road to pre-pandemic levels of activity.
“More and more Canadians have discovered that Canada has a lot to offer,” he said. “We expect that trend to continue next summer. And at the same time, we would also expect to see the return of American visitors. “
One incentive for Ontarians to stay is the provincial stay tax credit. The government of Prime Minister Doug Ford on Thursday released a plan for the measure, which would give residents a 20 percent personal income tax credit for money spent in the province on leisure and lodging in 2022.
The credit varies up to a maximum of $ 1,000 for an individual and $ 2,000 for a family, resulting in a credit limit of $ 200 or $ 400 respectively.
© 2021 The Canadian Press