Well, Maybe Next Year—after COVID-19: Our most important market has been in trouble. More than a quarter (20.8 million visitors, or 26.3 percent) of all international arrivals to the United States are from Canada. The latest tally from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) arrivals figures shows that visitation from Canada to the United States was down by more than 55 percent.
For Canada, all of its Top Ten target markets for international visitors (the USA, China, Mexico, the UK, India, France, Germany, South Korea, Japan and Australia) were off by more than 75 percent through the first six months of the year.
And it doesn’t seem to make a difference whether one regards Canada as a source for inbound traffic to the U.S. or as a part of the receptive market of North America. For both Canadian and U.S. suppliers who depend on cross border traffic (especially in the New York-Canada section of the joint border), there is a huge dependence on this type of travel activity, with the value of the Canadian dollar vs. the U.S. dollar serving as a key variable. In recent years, it has largely favored the United States. *
What has really crushed the Canada—U.S. trade has been the impact of the coronavirus-driven global pandemic. Because of it, the shared land borders between the two countries have been closed since March 18 and extended each month since.
There was some hope as the industry entered the fourth quarter of 2012 that what was left of the peak travel season or the shoulder season that unofficially launches in October, that there might be something left to salvage.
But just as September was ending, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, the United States borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed through October 21.
“We continue to work with our Canadian and Mexican partners to slow the spread of COVID-19,” he wrote in a Tweet. “Accordingly, we have agreed to extend the limitation of non-essential travel at our shared land ports of entry through October 21.”
For those interested in the specifics, the border closure applies to nonessential travel, but does not apply to trade and still allows for Americans returning to the U.S. and Canadians returning to Canada.
In June, the Canadian officials eased some Canada-US border restrictions for “foreign nationals who are immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, and who do not have COVID-19 or exhibit any signs or symptoms of COVID-19.”
The rule strictly defines family members as the following:
—A spouse or common-law partner;
—A dependent child, as defined in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, or —A dependent child of the person’s spouse or common-law partner;
—A dependent child, as defined in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, of a dependent child referred to in paragraph (b):
—A parent or step-parent or the parent or step-parent of the person’s spouse or common-law partner;
—A guardian or tutor.
—Americans traveling to or from Alaska are also allowed to drive through Canada, but must display a “hang-tag” during their trip and can only pass through certain border crossings, according to the Canada Border Services Agency.
* The numbers are indeed weak no matter what one’s perspective is. For instance, Destination Canada. Beginning with June 2020, it has begun to include same-day trips from non-U.S. countries—air passengers in transit to other countries—which have normally been excluded. Destination Canada estimates that these same day trips account for 3 percent of total arrivals. U.S. travel excludes same-trips by land. Data on mode of entry at the country level are not available, so only the long-haul arrivals by mode of entry are provided in the agency’s data.