Local economy looks for boost with incoming Canadian travelers

Published: Nov. 8, 2021 at 8:22 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The U.S. border reopens to Canada for nonessential travel Monday, and it’s a big moment for our region’s economy.

Due to the COVID-19 shutdown, Vermont lost about one-third of its typical annual hospitality revenue as of June; that’s about $1 billion. That not just Canadians, that’s everyone, but international travelers do play a role.

Secretary of the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets Anson Tebbetts says from a food and market standpoint, we’ve missed our northern neighbors.

“They’re going to buy local food, they are going to buy local drink, they are going to fill up our bed-and-breakfasts, our hotels. They also are going to bring food back to Canada or order online. We have a number of agritourism locations that rely on Canadian traffic. So once again they are going to be able to visit our farms, visit our breweries, our hotels, so it’s really really important,” said Tebbetts.

This opening comes just in time for ski season.

According to a study done by St. Michael’s College, Canadians inject about $150 million into the state’s economy annually, a chunk of that is skiing. That study also found ski ticket sales at Jay Peak were down 30% in the time period covered by the study from early winter 2020 into 2021.

“We’re hoping that it’s smooth on both sides. I know it’s an audience that Jay Peak really needs badly this year. They did have them last year, and they really count on the Canadian consumer to come down and ski at the mountain. We depend on them, too, when they come down to ski they are coming into Newport, the restaurants are always busy with the Canadian consumer,” said Rep. Michael Marcotte, R-Coventry, who is the chair of the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee.

Marcotte says he hopes the traffic will increase to boost the economy, but he says he thinks it depends on how easy people find it to cross.

New York Assemblyman Billy Jones says it’s a big day for the North Country but he is concerned about the testing requirement.

“Unfortunately, the Canadian testing requirement continues to remain a barrier for crossing the border since many have experienced difficulty getting tested and will prevent many short-term visitors and day-trippers from visiting and patronizing North Country businesses,” Jones said in a statement.

To visit the U.S., you just need your vaccine card and passport, but to get back into Canada, you need to have a negative molecular COVID test within 72 hours of the crossing.

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