For the first time since March of 2020, American travellers are now allowed to enter Canada for non-essential reasons and won’t have to quarantine — but they have to be fully vaccinated.
Despite getting the green light for American visitors, Thousand Islands border towns like Gananoque haven’t seen an increase in visitors yet.
Gananoque Chamber of Commerce interim executive director Bill Stewart says businesses in the region are more than ready.
“I think they’ve gone above and beyond,” says Stewart. “Our membership has to prepare and we will see how this change in the game unfolds over the next few weeks.”
The co-owners of the Gananoque Inn and Spa, Mukesh and Ashvina Patel, say they would love nothing more than to host their neighbours to the south.
“We’re excited about that, but at the same time the border needs to check vaccinations to see if they are fully vaccinated,” says Ashvina. “They do part of their job and we do our part of the job.”
With the American border so close, it’s no surprise many small businesses are relying on American travellers and their dollars.
Locals participating in “staycations” is a big reason the town was able to get through the pandemic, and Stewart says the influx of American travellers will be a smooth transition.
“Historically this has always been a tourist-driven town, township and region in general,” says Stewart. “Although there’s always going to be some apprehension with things moving forward, we can’t stress how important it is to reignite the relationship we have with our cross-border friends.”
There is no word yet on when Canadians will be able to cross the border for non-essential travel into the United States, but Stewart says he’s been in contact with American border cities and they are ready to welcome Canadians.