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How reopening U.S. land border to vaccinated Canadians will impact Western New York economy

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Posted at 4:06 PM, Oct 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-13 22:47:33-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — “It will be nice to see people shopping again and coming over on family trips,” said Thin Ice Gift Shop Owner, Terese Deutschlander.

Deutschlander, who is also the president of the Elmwood Village Association, said reopening the U.S. Border to vaccinated Canadians will boost her sales. She said sales have slumped for many of the Elmwood Village businesses since the Border closed 19 months ago.

She estimates Canadian tourism makes up 15-20% of her sales.

“They’re on vacation time. So, they’re excited to go see the Falls but then go to Elmwood and shop at all the stores. So, we definitely did feel the effect of no Canadian shoppers.”

Restaurant sales have also taken a hit, so said Tappo Restaurant owner Philip Limina. He said the lack of tourists have been apparent at his Ellicott Street location more recently now that Shea’s Performing Arts Center is open again. He said sporting events also used to generate Canadian traffic in his restaurant. “When a Canadian team is playing, the presence is tremendous and now dwindled to nothing.”

Congressman Brian Higgins said the Border closure has had a tremendous impact on tourism and the western New York economy. Pre-pandemic, in 2019, he said 21 million Canadians visited the U.S. and spent almost $21 billion.

“A stronger, more sustainable economic recovery is more likely with this open border than it was over the past 19 months,” Higgins said.