The number of international travelers coming to Florida may increase after Canada loosened its COVID-19 border restrictions, allowing non-essential vaccinated travelers in and out of the country.
Policy coordinator for the governor’s Office of Policy and Budget, Holger Ciupalo, said that he expects the White House to “follow suit” with Canada and match their border policy in the next three weeks.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, changes to their existing policy include letting vaccinated non-essential travelers cross the border, eliminating the 14-day quarantine requirement for those travelers after arriving in Canada, and eliminating pre-flight temperature screenings in airports to “make the travel process more streamlined.” Regarding children, unvaccinated travelers under the age of 12 may be allowed entry if he or she is accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult.
Ciupalo said at the Florida Economic Estimating Conference Tuesday that he believes that “2021 Q3 is a little more aggressive,” and that he thinks the current projection for tourism should increase based on the projected Canadian travelers.
Coordinator of the Legislature’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research (EDR) Amy Baker was “hesitant” to accept the proposal because of her concern of the increase of COVID-19 cases with the delta variant. She says that with Canada being more proactive with closing their border, the effects of the delta variant could result in Canada re-closing its border.
Ciupalo responded saying, “Yes, you have the Delta variant coming out. However, Canada’s over 70% vaccinated. They’re still getting vaccinated, Yes, the U.S. is lacking on that. Be that as it may. So, I do not think that the forecast for Canadians should come down from wherever it is right now.” He added, “The border’s closed. The border opens. You’re going to have a big jump in people.”
Azhar Khan, another member of the governor’s Office, presented another potential boost in tourism numbers from Canada. He says that other countries may struggle to open their borders to international travelers and that the boost could come from Florida being seen as an “alternative” destination given Governor DeSantis’ efforts to open the state.
As reported by The Florida Capital Star, data from 2020 shows that Canadian visitors decreased 64.5 percent from 2019, representing almost 2.5 million fewer Canadians who traveled to Florida in 2020.
When asked about Canada’s announcement, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “We are continuing to review our travel restrictions. Any decisions about reopening travel will be guided by our public health and medical experts. We take this incredibly seriously, but we look and are guided by our own medical experts” and not “through a reciprocal intention.”
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Casey Owens is a contributing writer for The Florida Capital Star. Follow him on Twitter at @cowensreports. Email tips to [email protected]