Wednesday, May 12

Canadians to American Tourists: (Please) Stay Away!

Ever since Canada closed its borders last March to help contain the coronavirus pandemic, many Canadians have had this message for American visitors: “We miss you, but please stay away!”

“I miss Canada,” wrote R. Anderson of North Carolina. “From Lunenburg and the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia to Jasper, Vancouver and Victoria plus Niagara By The Lake to its moderate people, Canada is what I wish for our U.S.”

But Al, from Kingston, Ontario, warned that Canadian longing for American visitors shouldn’t be exaggerated. “Meh. We miss their money, sure,” he wrote, before adding that Canadians were not “starry-eyed little children marveling at the wealth and sophistication of those legendary Americans.” Ouch.

Jeff from New York City weighed in, observing that Canada’s vaccination rate was lagging the United States’, and that “Guess what? Americans are in no rush to go to Canada.”

Mélanie Joly, Canada’s minister of economic development, who is responsible for tourism, told me that the reopening of the borders would depend on scientific health advice and the success of vaccination in taming the virus. Meanwhile, she said the government was encouraging Canadians to view their own cities as vacation spots.

“Canada misses the Americans, we do,” she said. “Our job is to make sure that Canadians are safe, and we aren’t there yet.”

Frederic Dimanche, the director of the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Ryerson University in Toronto, told me that the support for keeping the borders closed in Canada had been accompanied by a level of “travel-shaming,” in particular over the summer, not seen in other countries like France and the United States.

Writing in the Travel section this summer, my colleague Karen Schwartz, who has dual Canadian-American citizenship and hoped to visit her octogenarian father in Calgary, observed that there had been “so many reports of intimidation of Americans entering Canada that the premier of British Columbia, John Horgan, reminded angry Canadians to ‘Be Calm. Be Kind.’”

As the police began to clamp down with tickets and fines, she wrote that Alberta’s “most troublesome scofflaw thus far is a fellow from Alaska who was so determined to enjoy Banff with a woman from Calgary that he’d met online” that he was slapped with two fines in June.

This week’s Trans Canada section was compiled by Ian Austen, The Times’s Canada correspondent in Ottawa.

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