Canada-U.S. border reopening good news for Alberta tourism operators

Alberta's tourism industry will get a much-needed lift when Canada begins allowing fully vaccinated Americans to enter the country on Aug. 9, officials said Monday.

Border restrictions imposed on other foreign nationals will also be relaxed in early September.

The announcement is good news for Alberta’s travel and tourism industry that has struggled through more than a year of COVID-19 closures, and has only recently seen a major uptick in domestic travel.

“The international visitor, believe it or not, spends more than our domestic visitors do. They don't tend to pack a lunch when they come. They're the high ticket visitors, and so, we've really missed them," said Tourism Calgary CEO Cindy Ady.

"It's also really limited things like meetings … and conventions and those types of things. There's been such a limitation on those.  And so having surety of when the border will open now, and (having) a plan helps us."

Ady’s comments are echoed by the head of the Calgary Hotel Association.

"Given our reliance on corporate travel, travel between Midwestern states, Texas, Colorado, it's critical for our regional market. Of course, it's important to Banff, Lake Louise, Canmore and the Rockies, but when you look at travel to Alberta, so much of it is trans-border travel, and corporate travel related to oil and gas.” said Sol Zia, Calgary Hotel Association executive director.

"We work very closely with CBRE (Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis) on the commercial real estate side. Unfortunately, they're forecasting a (return to a) typical year to be 2024.  So 2024 will start to feel like 2019. It is going to be quite a climb back.”

Fully vaccinated travellers are exempt from quarantine. For the most part, fully vaccinated travellers will also be able to forgo the mandatory post-arrival COVID-19 test.

Border officials will still conduct random testing of travellers entering the country.

The Canada-U.S. border was shut down to non-essential travel by mutual agreement on March 21, 2020. 

Unvaccinated American children under the age of 12, and unvaccinated dependent children will be able to accompany a fully vaccinated parent, step-parent, or legal guardian. 

They will be able to bypass the 14-day quarantine, but must follow public health guidelines in the region they’re visiting.

Thus far, the U.S. has not announced similar plans to lift restrictions for Canadians seeking entry into that country for discretionary purposes.

Foreign nationals from countries other than the U.S. will have to wait until Sept. 7 to travel to Canada for discretionary purposes.  This date is tentative. 

It will take effect, “provided that the domestic epidemiologic situation remains favourable.”

All travellers will be required to upload proof of vaccination to the ArriveCAN app or website before boarding a flight to Canada and carry a vaccine certificate with them to present to border officials.

Additionally, five international airports in Canada have been added to the list of those accepting international flights.

The list now includes airports in:

  • Calgary;
  • Montreal;
  • Toronto;
  • Vancouver;
  • Quebec City;
  • Ottawa;
  • Winnipeg;
  • Edmonton, and;
  • Halifax.

With files from CTV Ottawa