Canada-U.S. border business concerned about possible lack of holiday travel

The long weekend is music to people's ears in Woodstock, N.B, as it's usually a time for cross border travel to mark Canada Day and the Fourth of July.

"Well I think we need to rebuild that trust," said Woodstock Mayor Arthur Slipp.

He’s wondering whether Americans in neighbouring Houlton, Maine will visit for Canada Day fireworks like many did prior to the pandemic.

"We're hopeful that we may see some of those, the border is a bit more open in terms of easier flow for our neighbours," Slipp said.

With most pandemic measures behind us, the Woodstock Duty Shop president believes inflation is the next big hurdle for travellers.

"It's been very slow,” said John Slipp, Woodstock Duty Shop president.

"In addition to the price of fuel, border travel apprehension, border travel limitations there's also the cost of accommodations in the state of Maine,” he said.

John Slipp is seeing far fewer American tourists cross the border, though some Canadians are still making the trek to the U.S.

"It's sort of an annual thing, we haven't done it since COVID hit of course," said Rick Hutchins, who is travelling to Maine to visit friends.

"I'm noticing there's a little bit of a line up so I'd say that's a little bit typical," Hutchins said.

At the duty free shop, they've heard other complaints from American travellers headed north.

"ArriveCan not only is it something extra you have to do but it's a mental barrier for a lot of people in particular the older age group," said John Slipp.

"It creates an anxiety about being a mistake and what if I screw it up and so they really don't want to do it, and then the American travellers are offended," he said.

The app appears to be staying in place for now as the Minister of Public Safety said it may be utilized beyond the pandemic.

John Slipp is hoping that they'll see even just half the numbers that would have come through here in 2019 for the long weekend.


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