BY LAURIE MARCIL, MEMBER SERVICES MANAGER, NOTO
n July 2007, a NOTO Border Issues Committee was established to continue investigating the issues affecting our industry surrounding the US/Canadian border crossing. The NOTO board identified border issues as one of five priority areas for 2007 and recommended that a mechanism be developed to work more effectively with Northwestern Ontario Tourism Association (NWOTA) and Kenora District Camp Owners Association (KDCA) so that regional and provincial activities could be better supported and coordinated.
NWOTA appointed Peg Hunger to the committee and KDCA appointed Steve Hartle, who has agreed to chair the committee.
The committee is made up of:
Committee Chair - Steve Hartle, Big Hook Wilderness Camps - KDCA representative
Committee Secretary - Laurie Marcil, NOTO Member Services Manager
Peg Hunger, Whitefish Bay Camp - NWOTA representative
Dave McLeod, Howey Bay Camps & NOTO Board Member
Al Errington, Errington’s Wilderness Island Resort & NOTO President
Doug Reynolds, NOTO Executive Director
The committee’s focus will be on clearly identifying issues regarding the US/Canadian border crossing procedures that impact our industry and on coordinating advocacy efforts and communications.
Although concerns around the border have been raised most frequently in northwestern Ontario, the committee has made it clear that this is an issue that affects tourism business throughout Ontario and therefore all crossings are open for discussion.
The committee also strongly supports the need to support its work with accurate, verifiable data. Although there are numerous anecdotal accounts of a variety of border problems, there is a need for more “hard data” on actual numbers of border turn backs, as well as verifiable evidence of misapplication of immigration rules.
The committee is examining the possibility of developing a method of reviewing selected “test cases” in order to confirm whether there is widespread arbitrary misapplication of admission rules. There will also be follow-up with government officials to obtain official statistics.
Currently, committee members are urging operators who have guests that are having difficulties crossing the border or that have questions, to have their guests contact the NOTO office. We will assist them in getting the correct procedural information and direct them to the appropriate government offices for resolution.
The committee meets every two weeks and sends out progress updates to all NOTO members via email after every meeting. We would like to encourage any operators to provide feedback directly to the Committee through the NOTO office via email at email@example.com, or by fax at 705-472-0621.
This article was taken from page 11 of NOTO's "The Outfitter" publication, Fall 2007 Issue