Northern Ontario tourism operators have lost $100 million in revenue, says tourism task force

The lifting of remaining border restrictions cannot come soon enough for local tourism operators

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The lifting of border crossing requirements can’t come soon enough for Northern Ontario tourism operators.

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Tourism operators in the north lost more than $100 million in revenue as a result of border crossing requirements such as random testing for COVID-19, vaccination and the use of ArriveCAN, according to a media release issued by the Border Task Force of Northern Ontario’s tourism industry. .

The task force consists of Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario (NOTO), Destination Northern Ontario and the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario.

Laure Marcil, executive director of (NOTO) strongly supports the elimination of pandemic border restrictions and requirements.

“Vaccination requirements, ArriveCAN and random testing were the top three reasons for international tourists to choose vacation destinations other than returning to Northern Ontario,” Marcil said in a media release issued Friday.

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“This spring, these border requirements resulted in tourism businesses reporting over $100 million in cancellations. The Northern Ontario Border Task Force has been working with provincial and national partners for the past two and a half years to address the economic issues and provide solutions to limited borders,” he said.

“Once these requirements are lifted, we will need the support of the Government of Canada to advertise to the world that Canada welcomes all tourists.”

Open borders for tourists is important, Marcil said, “as there are typically about one million United States visitors to Northern Ontario annually, spending $466 million.

“Northern Ontario tourism is a $1.6 billion industry that attracts 9.2 million visitors, supports 24,000 jobs and generates over $500 million in tax revenue.”

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David MacLachlan, executive director of Destination Northern Ontario said the task force has been working hard for over two years to continually reduce and eliminate border restrictions in order to protect the tourism industry.

“These measures have run their course and Canada must now align with the practices of other countries, level the playing field for tourism operators and fully welcome all tourists,” he said.

“These remaining restrictions continue to prevent United States tourists from making trips to Ontario, especially through land ports, as the number of trips was about half of what it was in the summer of 2019. The closed borders and extended border restrictions have hit northern Ontario more severely than the rest of the province over the past two and a half years, with about a third of tourism in Northern Ontario coming from the United States.”

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Tourism Industry Association of Ontario President and CEO Chris Bloore said for Ontario’s tourism industry to truly recover “we need to remove the last barriers to travel that are severely limiting the number of international travelers choosing to travel to Ontario.”

“The time has come for Canada to follow the lead of many of our G7 colleagues and international counterparts and repeal vaccine mandates and end the mandatory use of ArriveCAN,” he said.

“We must always remain vigilant to any emerging threats, but there is no scientific or public health rationale for these measures to remain in place, and every additional day they remain in place damages the standing and reputation of Ontario and the Canada as a global top destination. “

Bloore said while the time to lift the remaining border crossing restrictions is long overdue, at least Northern Ontario tourism operators will be able to fully market to all fall and winter tourists.

“Removing the remaining border crossing restrictions will be a clear signal that Northern Ontario is fully open for business and that all tourists are welcome.”

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