Tag: passports

    Boom time for Niagara’s crucial tourism industry

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    From Niagara This Week:

    The region’s crucial tourism industry is salivating at what officials are confident will be a massive year after years of struggles.

    At the kickoff of Tourism Week at the Ontario Travel Information Centre next to the QEW in St. Catharines on Tuesday, optimism for a boon year for tourism practically oozed from the crowded centre.

    The terrorist attacks of 9-11 that rocked tourism way back in 2001, the deadly SARS outbreak in Toronto in 2003 that kept visitors away, the Canadian dollar soaring to be at par with the U.S. greenback and a new policy in the U.S. requiring Americans to obtain passports to get back across the border hit Niagara’s tourism industry with a series of devastating blows.

    “There were so many challenges at the border at one time that we were saying the only thing that hasn’t happened is the (plague of) locusts,” said Niagara Falls Jim Diodati.

    U.S.-Canada border traffic remains in decline

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    From Herald Net:

    Stricter travel document requirements in place since 2009 haven’t meant endless waits for motorists along one of the busiest stretches of the U.S.-Canada border, as many had feared, but Americans are avoiding short trips to Canada anyway, a study released Friday found.

    They seem to think there’s no reason to go.

    The study looked at how the passport rule and other changes at the border since the Sept. 11 terror attacks have affected the flow of business and tourists across the four bridges between the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area and Ontario. It was commissioned by a consortium led by The Binational Economic & Tourism Alliance.

    The alliance had cautioned early on that the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, with its requirement that travelers show passports or an equivalent document beginning July 1, 2009, would keep travelers at home, unwilling to bother with expensive passports and traffic backups.

    Already along the border, passenger vehicle crossings have been on the decline since 2002 because of things like the SARS virus scare, the economy and gasoline prices.

    But the preliminary study results showed that even travelers who have the proper identification under WHTI aren’t making as many day trips, and the perception they’ll get stuck in long lines is only part of the problem.

    Planning a Toronto and Niagara Falls vacation — full itinerary

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    When Falls the Coliseum (“a journal of American culture[or lack thereof]) has some information on planning a trip to Niagara Falls (including the person’s own itinerary):

    We recently took a summer family vacation to Canada. Did you know it’s a different country? It is! You even need passports. We had a great time in Toronto and Niagara Falls, so I’m giving our readers the full itinerary with brief comments about each item. That should make planning your next summer vacation easier (unless you don’t want to go to Canada, in which case it might make your planning more difficult).

    More US visitors in Niagara Falls, Ontario?

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    Yesterday I linked to a Niagara Falls Review article where there seemed to be some optimism for the summer business. I wanted to add my 2¢…

    Last year when June came around, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) came into effect, and all travelers going across the border needed a passport or some other type of secure document. It hit the city hard.

    The first thing I noticed last year was that there seemed to be very few students around. Each year previously, you’d see huge groups of kids visiting on school trips. I don’t know for sure where they came from in previous years, but they weren’t anywhere last year. I assume that the US schools didn’t bother with the trip. Now, a year later, there have been lots of kids again. I’m not sure if it is back where it was, but it’s more than last year for sure. I’m sure there are a lot of Canadian schools, but there were t-shirts around from US schools as well. Part of the reason will be that many more people have passports. Another will be that it turns out that school groups where kids are under 18 don’t need passports.

    I tweeted last July that Quebec license plates were everywhere. On the other hand, there were very few US license plates to be seen. Anecdotally, there are a lot more licenses plates from US states this year. I mean A LOT more. It isn’t back to the pre-9-11 days, but it is way higher than last year.

    I know that the tourism industry is a lot more complicated than this, but based on these two simple observations, business should be better this year. Let’s hope so!

    Cheerleaders head over heels in Niagara Falls

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    From the Niagara Falls Review:

    Passports, the economy and cheerleading might not seem to have a lot in common, but they do.

    Just ask Nick Nero, organizer of the 26th annual Festival of Lights Cheerleading Championship competition held in Niagara Falls on the weekend.

    Teams from the United States, which in past years have brought a lot of business into the honeymoon capital, are staying home.

    That’s because many Americans still don’t have passports so they are staying on their side of the border.

    “We are down about 40 per cent all because of passports and the economy in the United States,” said Nero. “We just have to bit the bullet this year and hopefully things will pick up again.”

    The three-day event, which began on Friday at the Niagara Falls Memorial Arena, is always well attended by teams from the United States, but that trend has been changing. And, with the American and Canadian dollar being so close in value, there is less incentive for Americans to spend there money here, where they once enjoyed a 20 or 30 per cent exchange rate.

    “We are just like any other business in Niagara Falls. Everyone is feeling the pinch right now. At one time we were able to book a thousand or 1,200 hotel rooms, but right now it’s probably around five or six hundred,” said Nero.

    Niagara Falls tourism industry braces for impact of new passport rules

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    From Canoe.ca Travel:

    Just beneath the cheery din of slot-machine sirens, the sound of blissed-out tourist traffic and the crash of Niagara Falls, an undercurrent of anxiety is flowing among merchants and attraction operators as they brace for what some fear could be a summer of discontent.

    As of June 1, those who make their livelihoods serving visitors on the Canadian side of the border will be contending with strict new rules that require anyone entering the United States to carry a passport – including returning American tourists.

    The fear is that incoming U.S. traffic will dwindle and the southern Ontario city’s tourism industry will take a beating as a result.

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