Tourism Industry’s Northern Ontario Border Working Group Urges Government to Drop Remaining Border Restrictions for International Tourists

June 20, 2022.

From: Northern Ontario Border Working Group

North Bay, ON

Due to Northern Ontario’s heavy reliance on U.S. tourism and the massive losses accruing as a result of the ongoing border restrictions, the Northern Ontario Border Working Group urges the Government of Canada to immediately end the following remaining border requirements:

  1.    Random testing at land border crossings.
  2.    Vaccination of international tourists.
  3.    Use of ArriveCAN.

If the above border restrictions are not ended immediately to allow Northern Ontario tourist operators to internationally market and conduct full operations, then the federal government must allocate special funding of $110 million to FedNor for Northern Ontario tourism operators under a special section of the Tourism Relief Fund.  This will help reduce bankruptcies and bridge tourist operators until all border restrictions are ended.

It is estimated that since 2020, the Northern Ontario tourism industry and operators have lost over $2.08 billion in business, including over $900 million in tourism spending from United States (U.S.) travellers.  The closed border and lingering border restrictions have hit Northern Ontario more severely than the rest of the province as approximately one third of Northern Ontario tourism is from the United States.

Despite this month’s increase in U.S. residents taking trips into Canada through land ports, the number of trips remains at half (50.8%) of the U.S. residents who arrived by automobile during the same month in 2019.

According to a recent survey Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario (NOTO) sent out to over 1,300 Northern Ontario tourist operators, the respondents indicated that the top two challenges preventing full recovery are:

  • Increased operating costs (94% identified this as an issue)
  • Continued loss of U.S guests due to on-going border restrictions (90% identified this as an issue)

The effects of the pandemic have waned and countries around the world have responded with the elimination of all major travel restrictions.  However, Canada continues to impose travel restrictions and processes that have resulted in Canada losing tourism and business opportunities, while creating extensive travel delays and cancellations.

While recent announcements easing travel restrictions are welcome, they are incomplete and simply not good enough.  The Government of Canada must take the final step and end the above three remaining border restrictions immediately or allocate special funding of $110 million to FedNor for Northern Ontario tourism operators under a special section of the Tourism Relief Fund.  This fund would help reduce bankruptcies and bridge tourist operators until all border restrictions are ended.

Canadian tourism and businesses need to be on par with the international community with an unrestricted border to fully conduct their operations, create jobs and recapture lost sales.  Failure to do so will virtually eliminate any hope for substantial recapture of international tourism this year.


In December 2020, Destination Northern Ontario (DNO), Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario (NOTO), the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) and other stakeholder organizations, formed the Northern Ontario Border Working Group (NOBWG) to represent the tourism industry to work with the public and private sector to address the issues of a restricted border due to the pandemic.

The NOBWG continues to meet and liaise with government officials and tourism stakeholders providing advice, offering solutions, and supplying market data to assist in the evolution to an unrestricted border for tourists.

Tourism is a key economic driver in Northern Ontario as there were 9.2 million visits to Northern Ontario with tourism receipts totaling $1.6 billion and supporting 24,000 jobs.  There are approximately 1.0 million United States visitors to Northern Ontario annually, spending $466 million.  Ninety-one percent of the visitors to Northern Ontario arrive by cars/trucks and use the land border crossings.  The industry provides a major source of taxes and international income for the country.

DNO is the regional tourism marketing and development organization to build a strong tourism industry in Northern Ontario by working closely with tourist operators, industry associations, communities and stakeholders by supporting tourism economic development.

Sunset Country, Superior Country, Algoma Country and Northeastern Ontario Tourism are dedicated membership driven sub-regional travel associations under the umbrella of DNO.  They work closely with their tourism stakeholders and coordinate marketing and tourism activities with DNO.

NOTO works to enhance the quality, diversity and economic viability of the nature and outdoor tourism industry in Ontario and the optimum use of the resources of Ontario for the long-term social and economic benefits of all.  NOTO has been the voice of the resource-based tourism sector to governments since 1929.

TIAO works on behalf of their membership to take on pressing policy issues that impact the Ontario tourism industry and leads the way in government relations on behalf of the Ontario tourism industry, including tourism businesses and stakeholders.

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Laurie Marcil, NOTO


David MacLachlan, DNO


Chris Bloore, TIAO