Ottawa-area businesses see dip in American visitors
Gas prices, lack of passports cited as reasons for decline
Tourist-reliant businesses northwest of Ottawa say the recent trend of fewer Americans coming to visit each summer isn't any different this year, and they say gas prices and fewer passports are to blame.
"They're being hit by gas shock when they go to a gas station to fill up, be it diesel or be it gasoline they're absolutely blown away by the cost of it. So for a lot of them they get into the Ontario side and plan their trip back into the U.S. as soon as possible," she said Wednesday.
"For a lot of people travelling in motorhomes, a gas bill can make a difference between whether they come to Canada or not."
Gas cost 130.9 cents a litre in Renfrew Wednesday, according to OntarioGasPrices.com, which works out to approximately 495.5 cents per gallon (all figures in Canadian dollars).
Just across the border in Ogdensburg, N.Y., gas cost anywhere from 414 to 421 cents per gallon Wednesday, according to motortrend,com, which works out to 109.3 to 111.1 cents per litre.
Passports a lingering issue
At nearby Wilderness Tours, which offers whitewater rafting and other outdoor activities, owner Joe Kowalski said Americans are no longer a big part of his business.
He said many Americans can't come because they haven't adapted to 2009 changes requiring them to have a passport to enter Canada.
"Most Americans don't have passports," he said.
"Even myself, I still have relatives back in the States and I keep inviting them to come visit me, but they can't come because they have no passports and have no intention of getting them."
These businesses said these are issues that are out of their control, and they hope the provincial government can find creative ways to lure Americans back.