Quebec border towns starving for American tourists

By Michael Boriero - Local Journalism Initiative
Quebec border towns starving for American tourists
Sylvie Boudreau

Fully vaccinated travellers have been allowed to enter into Canada without proof of a negative COVID-19 test since April 1, and border towns like Stanstead are hoping that it will translate into a surge of American visitors this summer.

According to Karine Cantin, the co-owner of the Auberge Le Sunshine in Stanstead, there has already been an increase in tourists coming from the United States. For most of the past year she would see maybe one or two every week, but now there are one or two per day.

Cantin said in the last two weeks alone she has noticed an energy coming off of tourists walking into her cozy inn, which doubles as a local Café-Bistro. Once everyone understands that the rules have loosened at the border, she expects to see an uptick in visitors.

“Yes, absolutely, American clients make up about 40 per cent of our clientele. They’re a very important clientele for us, so we’re hoping for a nice summer. I think with the loosening of restrictions people will eventually understand they can pass without doing a test,” she said.

But Tourisme Cantons-de-l’Est Public Relations & Communications Director Lysandre Michaud-Verreault said business owners will need to practice patience, as the number of American tourists entering into Canada will likely take a few years to return to normal.

“I think it’s important we can share that it is expected that the recovery will be gradual. According to Destination Canada, the return of Americans to pre-pandemic level is expected to be more between 2024 and 2026, so we won’t be at the same level this summer,” she said.

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