Full steam ahead for tourism in Niagara Falls as tests are dropped
Published March 17, 2022 at 1:02 pm
News that travelers crossing into Niagara Falls would no longer need expensive COVID-19 testing after the federal government said yesterday (March 16) the border restriction would be dropped April 1 came as welcome relief to the city’s politicians and businesses.
Said Mayor Jim Diodati, “This is the type of breaking news we like to read!”
For months, Diodati has been hoping the feds would drop the tests, recently co-penning a letter to federal Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault along with 14 other border mayors, pleading for the tests to be done.
Among the co-signers was Niagara-on-the-Lake Mayor Betty Disero though surprisingly Fort Erie Mayor Wayne Redekop’s name was not on the appeal. That was an odd omission as just weeks earlier, the entire Fort Erie council sent Boissonnault a letter asking for the same thing.
When expensive PCR tests were needed to cross into Niagara Falls, Diodati said it could added up to $2,000 in costs to a traveling family, making Niagara Falls an expensive and far less appealing visit for American tourists.
Pre-pandemic, it was estimated that close to 40 per cent of the dollars spent in Niagara Falls were American.
While Niagara’s acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Mustafa Hirji is still recommending that Niagara businesses keep checking proof of vaccination, it seems unlikely that businesses, particularly restaurants and tourist attractions in Niagara Falls which has been hit hard financially by the pandemic, will do so.
Niagara Falls councillor Chris Dabrowski, who represents the Chippewa ward, has said numerous times he would prefer not to send mixed messages to American tourists and is perfectly happy with the loosening of restrictions by both the Ontario and federal governments.
As of March 21, Ontario has lifted the mask mandates for businesses after yanking the mandatory vaccine passports to enter businesses on March 1. It now remains up to Niagara businesses to decide if they wish to check for proof of vaccinations from their clientele.
However, education institutions such as Brock University with campuses in St. Catharines and Thorold, as well as Niagara College with campuses in Niagara-on-the-Lake and Welland, have both indicated that facemasks and proof of vaccination will remain until the school year is done.
So while it is a little late in the season to plan summer tourism strategies, it’s a safe bet that it’s all-systems-go for Niagara Falls as the weather warms up.insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising