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May 11, 2021

New passport rules punch Canadian tourism in the gut

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

By the end of the season, people might be wondering what the least successful tourist locales were this summer – Mexico City, Fallujah, or the Rogers Centre once the Jays’ bats inevitably cool off.

Yet the rest of Canada, thanks to some well-intentioned bureaucracy, could soon become a nominee, as well.

Starting June 1, new American passport laws will take effect and make the trip across the Canada-U.S. border a little more dicey.

And, as the Toronto Star reports, that’s going to have a big time impact on the amount of tourism bucks the Canadian economy can count on this year.

When the little-promoted June deadline hits, all Canadians over 19 visiting the U.S. will need a passport or other enhanced pieces of ID or they won’t be allowed to make the trip.

(Examples of an enhanced ID include the new Ontario driver’s license – which costs $115: $40, plus the usual $75 renewal fee – though they don’t look like they’ll be ready by June 1 and cost a bit more than the $87 adult passport fee.)

While this, of course, sends Canadians scrambling to passport offices with last-minute applications, the real issue is that Americans will need a passport, too, when coming into Canada.

Problem is, only about 30% of them even have the document.

So it’s with considerable understanding that Canadian tourism officials are spooked by this trend.

As the Star muses, the timing of the passport deadline relative to the swine flu outbreak also makes matters significantly worse.

With the recession biting families in middle-class America, where else are vacationing Yanks likely to turn aside from Canada when Mexico is out of the picture?

And how many prospective dollars to stimulate our economy are we going to miss out on because of these new sanctions? Probably more than we’d like.



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About the Authors

Deirdre McMurdy

Deirdre is a veteran business journalist and born-again policy wonk. She has covered corporate and financial markets news for 20 years in both print and broadcast at the Globe & Mail, Maclean’s, CTV’s Canada AM and...

Gordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James Havers

James is the senior editor of Sympatico / MSN Finance living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo), canoe.ca, AOL.ca, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Joe Lee

Joe is the product manager of Sympatico / MSN Finance. While attending a journalism school in New York, he never thought that dollars and cents would later rule his career as a journalist. Despite meeting several savvy money experts...

Dawn Cuthbertson

Dawn is assistant editor of Sympatico/MSN Finance. With caviar dreams on a tuna can budget, she’s always looking for ways to save for a down payment and contribute more to her RRSP with a little left over for fun...