U.S. tourists return to Niagara region tourist attractions as border reopens

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NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. – American tourists returned to the Niagara region on Monday for the first time in over a year, eager to see the thundering falls, enjoy area attractions and explore the nearby wine country.

NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. – American tourists returned to the Niagara region on Monday for the first time in over a year, eager to see the thundering falls, enjoy area attractions and explore the nearby wine country.

They have been well received by local businesses that rely heavily on tourism and have suffered the effects of more than a year of pandemic border restrictions.

“We are so happy to be in Canada, this is our first time,” said Janine Steeves, who crossed the Rainbow International Bridge to Niagara with her children.

“We’re going to go to Niagara Falls, we’re so excited – we’re doing the hot tub boat tour.”

Steeves, a resident of Illinois, said it took about 90 minutes to cross the border, adding officials were efficient and friendly.

Ashley Earl also decided to visit the Niagara region for the first time with her mother on Monday, saying they wanted to take advantage of the change in restrictions during the holidays.

“I’ve always wanted to see Niagara Falls,” said Earl, from North Carolina. “I’m a great person by nature… and (the trip) just happened on my birthday, so it’s really very special.”

Non-essential U.S. travelers who have received a full course of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine are now allowed into the country, provided 14 days have passed since their last dose and they have proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test within the past 72 hours.

Businesses in Ontario’s Niagara border region have said they look forward to the removal of border restrictions.

“After 17 long months, we are very pleased to welcome US visitors to Niagara Falls Canada again,” said Janice Thomson, Director of Niagara Falls Tourism, adding that nearly 30 percent of visitors to the region are from the States. -United.

The owner of Niagara Wine Tours International said the demand for wine country experiences has increased since Ontario’s reopening began and this is expected to increase with the changes at the border.

“We are delighted to have our American friends visiting and touring with us once again,” said Lance Patton, noting that travelers from the United States often visit the area to celebrate birthdays, mark birthdays, organize corporate events and enjoy group getaways.

Zahir Ismail, owner of popular restaurants in Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake, said he was also excited to serve American customers again, but hoped people would follow public health guidelines to make sure that companies like his do not have to endure further pandemic shutdowns.

“I hope it will last longer because I’m afraid that with the whole Delta variant we will shut down again,” Ismail said.

The mayor of Niagara Falls has said his city is happy to finally approach a version of normalcy, but he doesn’t expect a “mad rush” of American tourists heading for the border this week.

Mayor Jim Diodati has been calling for the border to be reopened for months, saying the city’s economy is heavily dependent on tourists.

Diodati said he believes the people who would want to cross the border immediately are those hoping to reunite with relatives and friends they haven’t seen in nearly two years, as well as those who want to check out the properties they they own in Canada.

“I think it’s going to be gradual, like a dimmer, because for day trippers it’s a lot of work and obstacles to overcome in order to be able to cross that border,” he said.

Likewise, the company that operates the Hornblower Cruises that take visitors to Niagara Falls does not expect a significant increase in business anytime soon due to border changes.

Mory DiMaurizio, COO of Niagara Cruises, said Canadian ships with capacity for 700 passengers only operate at 25-35% of capacity, while their US counterparts, Maid of the Mist boats, are full. .

“We’re ready for (the travelers are coming), but I’m not suggesting that we anticipate a massive wave of people.”

All eligible travelers must use the ArriveCAN app or web portal to submit information such as their vaccination details.

Fully vaccinated travelers will not need a post-arrival test unless they have been randomly selected to perform a Day 1 COVID-19 molecular test.

There are no changes to the mandatory testing requirements for unvaccinated travelers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 9, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of Facebook and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Denise Paglinawan, The Canadian Press



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