BUFFALO, N.Y. — This week, the U.S. government surprised many by choosing to extend border restrictions for Canadian travelers another month even as Canada plans to loosen its own rules on August 9.
New York state Sen. Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, who has been pushing to open the border, said he was very disappointed.
“Somebody at the federal level has to get their head out of their fifth point of contact, get together with the Canadian government and come up with a joint plan that works to open the border,” Ortt said.
He said the decision will have a negative impact on tourism in his district, which includes Niagara Falls.
“It’s certainly not great for our community because that means we’re not going to get the benefit,” Ortt said. “They’re going to get the benefit because New Yorkers can go to Canada but Canadians won’t be able to come in because, in some weird way, it’s almost the worst of outcomes where instead of both sides still being closed, only our side effectively is going to be closed.”
Visit Buffalo Niagara, the lead tourism agency for Erie County, said on average 35 to 45 percent of overall travel comes from Canada. President Patrick Kaler said the group has been lobbying hard with federal lawmakers and the U.S. Travel Association to open the border.
“This isn’t just a Buffalo and Erie County issue. It’s across the country. There are so many destinations that do rely on that Canadian visitor,” Kaler said.
However, he said there is a bright side. Overall hotel occupancy was at 52 percent in May and up to 62 percent in June.
“As we come out of the pandemic, it might not be as bad that the border isn’t open but once we get the workforce back in place we really are going to want to have those Canadian visitors coming on a more regular basis,” Kaler said.
He said there are projections leisure tourism won’t return to 2019 levels until 2022 and business tourism until 2024. So while there is some time, Kaler said the organization will continue to advocate to bring Canadian travelers back soon.
Originally Appeared On: https://spectrumlocalnews.com/nys/buffalo/politics/2021/07/23/u-s–border-restrictions-extension-impacts-tourism