Canada will allow fully vaccinated Americans to cross the border for non-essential travel once again on Aug. 9, but many New Hampshire tourist attractions are still waiting for the return of Canadian guests.
The state usually sees about 350,000 visitors from Canada each year, according to Lori Harnois, state tourism director. The border has been closed for leisure travel for 16 months, but open for commercial traffic.
“Our fingers are crossed and we are hopeful and eager,” she said of the U.S. easing restrictions to allow fully vaccinated Canadians into the country. Many visitors from Ontario and Quebec head to Hampton Beach, the Lakes Region and the White Mountains.
Many businesses have seen an uptick in business from states such as Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
“We all had a pent-up demand to travel,” she said.
For months, business leaders and politicians have pushed to reopen the border. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki declined to say Monday whether the United States would follow Canada’s lead.
People eligible to enter Canada must have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days beforehand and show negative test results within 72 hours.
U.S. Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas, both Democrats, signed a letter on June 10 along with representatives in Maine and Vermont urging the Biden administration to reopen the border. Canadian tourists are “vital contributors to the New England economy.”
Kuster called Canada’s decision to reopen “a positive step” toward the U.S. doing the same.
“I hope that the United States will join Canada in easing travel restrictions at our northern border,” she said in a statement. “Opening our border to fully vaccinated Canadian tourists will spur job creation and keep our economy on the path to recovery.”
Jeff Woodward, a managing partner with NLI LLC, which operates Alpine Adventures and Whale’s Tale Water Park in Lincoln, said they typically get some Canadian travelers every year.
He said many visitors are now coming from the Seacoast or other areas of New England, but there has been an almost two years of pent-up demand for Canadians to travel over the border.
“I would think there would be a very big influx,” Woodward said.
Jeffrey Cozzens, CEO and cofounder of Schilling Beer Co. in Littleton, said Quebec has a strong craft beer tradition, and Montreal is less than three hours away.
“We miss going to visit our brewing industry colleagues in Quebec, and conversely, miss hearing French spoken in our beer gardens,” he wrote in an email to the Union Leader.
“Given the strong social and economic ties that the North Country of New Hampshire and Vermont has with Quebec, we’re hopeful that we won’t see another closure — even if we do see a resurgence of the virus.”
The state continued its partnership with Reach Global Marketing as its agency of record in Canada. Reach Global will launch targeted public relations, travel trade initiatives and strategic partnerships.