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Hyer calling for passport fees cut

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Thunder Bay-Superior North MP Bruce Hyer has introduced legislation calling on the federal government to negotiate a joint reduction in passport fees with the United States in order to boost tourism between the two countries.

“Cutting passport fees would encourage tourism in Canada from the United States, and would make it easier for Canadians to travel,” Hyer reasoned.

“We’ve seen a steep drop in U.S. tourists visiting Canada in recent years—a decline of 20 percent since 2005,” he noted.

“There are many reasons for this but one is the added cost of mandatory passports.”

Hyer said 80 percent of tourist visitors to Canada still come from the United States, yet only about a third of Americans hold passports.

It can cost up to $135 to obtain a passport in the U.S.—a significant cost for a family wishing to come to Canada for vacation.

Canadian passports cost between $87 and $105, but the fee must be paid every five years by those wishing to renew their passports.

Hyer’s motion was based on a resolution passed by 11 states and four provinces at the 2010 Midwestern legislators’ conference in Toronto, written by a former NDP representative to the conference.

A major concern of the border states and provinces was the impact new U.S. rules for mandatory passports would have on cross-border tourism and trade.

Some Canadian provinces joined the U.S. in issuing cheaper “passport cards” to promote cross-border tourism, but after three years these have seen little uptake in comparison to regular passports.

“We need to make the existing passport system more accessible,” Hyer stressed.

“The current fees for passport application and renewal are a barrier for Americans considering travel to Canada, and for Canadians who want to travel abroad.

“Reducing fees, and a introducing a two-for-one fee reduction for families, would help boost tourism and benefit both countries’ economies,” he reasoned.

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