No Border Travel…No Tourism And WNY Is Feeling It
Parking lots and streets in usually busy Niagara Falls have been seemingly empty lately. Only a few people at restaurants outside. WKBW-TV reports that one reason for this is because of the closure of non-essential travel across the Canadian-U.S. border.
“This is like January 1st with better weather. It’s very unusual,” John Percy, President and CEO of Destination Niagara USA, said.
Now it appears the border closure will extend through the end of July.
“It’s not like an international border, it’s like closing off a neighborhood…and those people are like our true neighbors to the north and they’re impactful to our community,” Percy said. Shop, dine and stay. In that order, Percy said those are the categories where Canadians spend their money while on the U.S. side of the border.
Economic benefits from Canadian tourists have been non-existent for the region since March. Percy anxiously awaits reopening and is planning now for a strong rebound.
Tourism and sales tax revenue are the main areas of concern as the border remains closed.
According to officials, research shows Canadians visit The Fashion Outlets more than anywhere else in Western New York. Citing research by Visa, Percy said Canadians spent $59 million dollars in Niagara County last year.
In March and April, Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino said the city lost 22% of sales tax.
While the border has been closed, Restaino said he has been in touch with the Niagara Falls, Ontario mayor on what reopening will look like for the two cities when it’s allowed. Back in the U.S., the mayor said The Cataract City is in talks to collaborate with other governments in order to shrink expenses.
One would think that once border restrictions are eased commerce would have a strong return. Travel between Niagara Falls, New York and Ontario is almost as easy as traveling between Erie and Niagara counties. As someone who grew up in Niagara Falls, I never felt like traveling across the bridges was visiting another country...it just seemed like going to Grand Island.