Northern tourism organizations call for border to reopen by July 22

A look at the International Bridge that connects Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario to Michigan. Jun 2019. (Nicole Di Donato/CTV Northern Ontario)

Representatives of northern Ontario’s tourism industry are calling on the federal government to reopen the border to fully vaccinated travellers -- and they would like to see that happen by July 22.

Nature & Outdoor Tourism Ontario, or NOTO, is making the request on behalf of the resource-based tourism industry. Both NOTO and Destination Northern Ontario say resource-based tourism is among the hardest-hit sectors since the beginning of the pandemic.

“We’ve worked with industry and government to help these businesses manage through the provincial and federal restrictions,” said Laurie Marcil, executive director of NOTO. “We’ve conducted surveys and shared the results with government to ensure they had up-to-date accounts of the financial impacts on our sector.”

The executive director of Destination Northern Ontario said resource-based tourism is big business in the region, and the absence of international travellers is being felt.

“We’re talking about high-yield angling and hunting, and everyone should know that northern Ontario is the preeminent destination worldwide for high-yield angling,” said David MacLachlan. “We attract more high-yield anglers to our region than anywhere else on the planet.”

According to NOTO, American tourists make up 90 per cent of the clientele for roughly half of all resource-based tourism outfitters.

It says if the border remains closed beyond July 22, the federal government needs to come forward with more financial support for the tourism sector.