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Tourism group welcomes elimination of border restrictions

Northern Ontario Border Working Group says operators can now market for fall, winter seasons

An advocacy group representing Northern Ontario tourist operators is applauding the federal government's decision to remove all remaining border-crossing restrictions related to COVID-19. 

On Sept. 22, the federal government announced travellers into Canada would no longer be randomly tested for COVID-19, international visitors would not be required to be vaccinated against coronavirus, and the government would be scrapping the use of ArriveCAN — a smartphone app travellers used to verify health information related to COVID-19.

In a news release, the Northern Ontario Border Working Group noted it had lobbied for the last two years for these restrictions to be lifted.

According to the group, one third of all tourism activity in Northern Ontario comes from U.S. visitors.

“Destination Northern Ontario fully supports the Government of Canada eliminating the remaining border crossing requirements of random testing, vaccination of tourists and the use of ArriveCAN,” David MacLachlan, executive director of Destination Northern Ontario, said in a Sept. 23 news release.

“These measures have run their course, and Canada must now align itself with the practices of other countries, level the playing field for tourism operators, and fully welcome all tourists.”

MacLachlan's statement was echoed by Laurie Marcil, executive director of Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario, and Chris Bloore, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario.

According to the group, Northern Ontario annually hosts one million U.S. tourists, who spend $466 million.

Northern Ontario tourism is a $1.6-billion industry, attracting 9.2 million visitors, supporting 24,000 jobs, and generating more than $500 million in tax revenue.

The group said the dropping of restrictions comes just in time for Northern Ontario tourist operators to prepare for fall and winter activities, as well as plan for the 2023 tourist season.