BISMARCK, ND (KFYR) – Canadian officials are easing pandemic restrictions this week in hopes that the border could possibly reopen by the end of the month.
This would be good news for many North Dakota businesses who would like to see Canadian tourists back. Canadian trucks and cars were backed up daily at North Dakota ports of entry before the pandemic.
More than half a million Canadian vehicles traveled to North Dakota in 2019. Last year that number fell by 77%, with trips limited to essential workers only.
The lack of Canadian tourists has affected many parts of North Dakota, from recreation to income.
“We can’t wait for this border to open because we really depend on our Canadian visitors. We would be delighted to be able to welcome them again, hopefully, as soon as possible, ”said Sara Otte Coleman, ND Tourism Director.
Many Canadian vehicles transport buyers to Bismarck and other cities in North Dakota. The dollars they spend make a big difference to businesses in the area.
Sheri Grossman, CEO of Bismarck-Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau, said, “We have stores that they don’t have there. Even the big box, but they also like to see our local stores. “
The border will not open early enough for some attractions that rely heavily on Canadian traffic.
“I know the state fair is heartbroken, we cannot welcome Canadians again in a few weeks,” said Coleman.
In addition to Canadian contacts, Coleman’s agency has kept in touch with foreign operators that it says will hopefully add more market share to state tourism when international gateways reopen.
There are 18 border crossings in North Dakota. The border was closed due to the pandemic on March 21, 2020.
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