June 22, 2009

U.S., Canada see border crossing decline

The number of U.S. residents traveling to Canada has dropped sharply since September 2001, Statistics Canada said Monday.

Since the terrorist attacks, day trips to the U.S. neighbor to the north have fallen 70 percent. In addition, new passport requirements have cut into visits to Canada, the Toronto Globe & Mail reported.

The impact of the passport requirement was quickly felt. Since June 1, cars crossing the border into Canada at the Peace Bridge, connecting Fort Erie, Ontario, to Buffalo, N.Y., have dropped 13 percent, while bus traffic has plunged 40 percent.

Although visits by U.S. citizens still make up the bulk of tourists in Canada,it's a huge disincentive, said marketing Professor Robin Ritchie at Carleton University.

I don't think we've even begun to see the effects of that, he said, referring to the passport requirement.

There is both the reality and the perception that the border has become more difficult to cross.

Canadian visits to the United States also have declined. In April, Canadian visits to their southern neighbor dropped 13 percent compared with April 2008, while Canadian visits to other foreign destinations increased 6 percent compared with a year ago.