A study that currently exists in draft stage indicates a major marketing effort is required to persuade the millions of U.S. tourists who vacation in northern Minnesota that Canada is a safe place to visit, or an alternative vacation destination.
It is a major task. The Canadian border is seen by U.S. tourists as a deterrent.
Many reasons are cited. For instance, the border crossing to Fort Frances presents many perceived problems—long lineups, lengthy inspections (fear of being rejected or having a vehicle torn apart), and the cost thanks to the bridge toll.
Last week, area tourist operators complained to Immigration and Customs officials of the many U.S. guests who were turned back for convictions for “Driving Under the Influence” (DUI)—regardless of how old those convictions were.
As we all know, a secure country is essential for everyone’s safety. But a secure country also needs the ability to be economically secure.
The events of Sept. 11 have made it more difficult to move goods back and forth over the Canada-U.S. border—a situation both governments, as well as Queen’s Park, recognize.
Monies must be earmarked to reduce the barriers. Policies also must be reviewed so the biggest boosters to our economy do not find reasons to vacation elsewhere.
The number of U.S. residents and vehicles crossing into Canada at Fort Frances shows a steady decline. The Canadian dollar continues to decline in value in relation to the U.S. greenback. That alone should make Northwestern Ontario an attractive destination to U.S. visitors.
Baby-boomers are growing older and, with age, often have more disposable income. They also are looking for security and safety in their travel. As Rainy River District progresses towards its “Safe Community” designation by the World Health Organization (WHO), this also provides a potential advantage to vacation here.
Let’s use that to our advantage, and challenge all levels of government to promote our uniqueness—both as a country and a safe place to bring families.