“Like everything else, it’s hard to say what will be the real impact,” said Audrey Lizotte, chair of Tourisme Prescott-Russell Tourism (TPRT).
Canada and the United States agreed to close the border between the two countries to all but essential travel as part of joint efforts to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The closure took effect midnight March 20.
This means no more cross-border shopping and no vacation travel to either country for Canadians and Americans, regardless whether for a weekend event getaway or a regular vacation trip.
TPRT represents many businesses in the Prescott-Russell area, both seasonal and year-round, which depend in part or entirely on tourism for their livelihood. The agency did a membership survey to gather information on what effect, if any, the lack of American tourists because of the pandemic could have on the region’s tourism sector.
The survey results indicated 80 per cent of TPRT members expect the temporary border closure will affect their operations, with a "significant increase" in cancellations expected for restaurants, hotel, motel and bed-and-breakfast operators, and for special occasion operators of reception halls, sugar shacks, and other facilities which provide entertainment and banqueting service.
"We will continue to monitor the consequences of COVID-19 on the tourism industry in Prescott-Russell in the upcoming months," stated Lizotte. "Only time will tell us what the real impacts will be."
"I think it would be good to highlight local purchasing with the important elements of this pandemic," stated Benjamin Bercier, TPRT secretary-treasurer. "Travelling abroad is suspended, so take the time to visit your own 'backyard' this summer. Your dollars spent here are the best way to support our local tourism industry."