COVID Restrictions Backfire on Canada: 'Not Convincing These People to Come'

Canada’s rules for tourists entering Canada are being cited as one reason Americans are slow to return to their northern neighbor.

The focus of concern is the ArriveCAN app, according to CBC. Canada requires visitors to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

ArriveCAN is an app that must be used by anyone who wants to enter Canada. Tourists must submit travel and vaccination information within 72 hours of when they plan to enter Canada.

Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati told the CBC the app is a barrier to Americans.

“I talked to Americans,” he said. “They’re saying, ‘Just bypass Canada. It’s easier to go to Europe than come to Canada.'”

The result? Niagara Falls has had a dearth of American visitors this summer.

“When you talk to any businesses in town, they’ll tell you there’s a very small amount of American dollars coming in,” Diodati said. “It’s been hurtful, especially after two years of COVID.”

Anna Pierce, vice president of Niagara Helicopters, which offers rides over the falls, called the drop in American tourists “devastating” and said bookings are down 35 percent due to the lack of American tourists, CBC reported.

Perrin Beatty, chief executive of the Conference Board of Canada, a business lobby group, said the government needs to make entry to Canada easier, according to Reuters.

“If what people are hearing from Canada is that the system is broken, they’ll simply go somewhere else where things are functioning better,” said Beatty.

Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York has written to Canadian officials to scrap the app.

“The ArriveCan app serves no public health purpose and continues to harm both commerce and the flow of traffic at our border. I urge you and the Canadian government to cease this app’s harmful impacts on our border communities and immediately halt its required use,” she wrote in a letter to Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S.

Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins of New York said border issues her everyone, according to Buffalo’s WKBW-TV.

“These continued obstacles keep hurting Southern Ontario and Western New York,” Higgins said.

“We’re going to develop a coalition of both U.S. and Canadians to get the governments to work together toward the goal of lifting all the restrictions on both sides of the border so that we can get a sense of normalcy,” Higgins said.

WKBW said explore.go reported in July that vehicle traffic across the border to and from Canada in 2022 was 847,658 — less than one-tenth of its 2019 total of 10,514,815.

Statistics Canada has said the overall decline in visits from Americans is about 45 percent.

Pierce said the app is one factor, because tourists have said it is too hard to use.

“They just kind of say, ‘You know what, it’s not worth it, sorry, see you later,'” Pierce said.

“No matter what [marketing] you do in the U.S., you’re not convincing these people to come,” she said.

Although Americans coming in on impulse can get a one-time pass, Diodati says that is not s real solution.

“That’s like putting lipstick on a pig,” he told CBC. “Tourists are like water. They take the path of least resistance. It’s just easier to not come here, and many have already made the choice.”

Canadian authorities defended their COVID policies. Transport Minister Omar Alghabra told CBC the app is valuable.

“Given the fact that we require a vaccine certificate to cross to enter Canada, without it, the process of verification would be manual,” he said. “This tool is helpful and it really does enhance efficiency.”

That is not how Matt Myford sees it. The Pennsylvania resident and his wife wanted to enter Canada in June, but their spur-of-the-moment decision was frustrated by issues with the app.

“It did leave a bitter taste in our mouth,” he said.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.