Canadians flock to US border towns to take advantage of a travel escape route

Robinson R44 helicopter

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          Les industries de niche lucratives, y compris le vol d'hélicoptères au-dessus de la frontière et les trajets internationaux en voiture, sont en plein essor dans des villes comme Buffalo, New York.
          <ul class="summary-list"><li>Les touristes canadiens stimulent les affaires dans les villes frontalières des États-Unis pour éviter des quarantaines strictes au Canada. </li>
  • Those arriving in Canada by land can save up to $ 2,000 (Canadian) by not having to self-quarantine in a hotel.
  • Transportation companies in cities like Buffalo, New York, are reaping the benefits with expensive fares.
  • See more stories on the Insider business page.
  • Canadian tourists are once again boosting the economies of US border towns and bringing back the “buffalo shuffle” despite the border between the two countries remaining closed to non-essential travel.

    Transportation companies in Buffalo, New York, are experiencing a long-awaited business boom reaching out to Canadians heading north, reports CBC, and the reason is a loophole that allows them to avoid mandatory quarantines of COVID-19 hotels upon their return home.

    Newly enacted travel restrictions in Canada require residents returning by air to be quarantined in a hotel at their own expense, up to $ 2,000 (Canadian), according to CBC. However, Canadians crossing the land border need only submit to a home quarantine when undergoing extensive testing for the coronavirus, in addition to providing a recent negative test to border guards.

    Buffalo is an outpost that has seen an increase in the number of Canadian visitors, but not directly from Canada. Visitors to the north arrived by air from parts of the United States and made the last part of their return trip by land, crossing the world’s longest border by car.

    A transportation company, Buffalo Limousine, told CBC it averages 50 Canadians a day and business has grown by 50%. The pandemic nearly wiped out the business, as well as countless businesses that relied on Canadian customers.

    A Buffalo limousine trip from the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport across the border to Fort Erie, Ont., Costs about $ 120 one-way for the 17-mile trip, CBC said.

    Le Peace Bridge relie Buffalo, New York, à Fort Erie, Ontario.

    Transit options before the pandemic included Megabus Canada and Amtrak, which carried passengers from Buffalo to Toronto with stops along the way. The two shut down cross-border services during the pandemic, according to their websites.

    Revive the buffalo mix

    Before the pandemic, the North American neighbor was more than willing to cross the southern border to save on everything from gasoline to airline tickets. Canadian visa holders also frequently visited the now closed Canadian Consulate General in downtown Buffalo to request certain extensions that could only be done outside the country, a trip known as the Buffalo shuffle. .

    But the land border between the United States and Canada has been closed to non-essential travel since March as part of a mutual agreement between governments to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The United States and Mexico have a similar deal, although Americans can enter Mexico with abandon thanks to the Latin American country’s lax entry and exit rules.

    Ironically, restrictions on the US border prevent Canadians who are not also US citizens from entering by land, so the plane is the only option for many of them to enter the free country. A winter visitor to the United States, for example, would have to fly from Canada to the United States and then travel to a border town like Buffalo to drive back to avoid quarantine.

    The rules created another niche industry in Canada that provides short cross-border flights so Canadians can take advantage of this loophole. CBC reported in February that many Canadians continued to flock to the United States even after their government imposed stricter travel restrictions, and one company even began offering international helicopter flights.

    Great Lakes Helicopters operates 28 mile flights from St. Catharines, Ont., Near Niagara Falls to Buffalo, costing $ 1,500 (Canadian) plus tax, according to its website. Canadians can even drive to St. Catharines and have the company ship their cars across the border – cross-border trucking has not stopped during the pandemic – for between $ 700 and $ 1,600. $ (Canadian), depending on the size of the car.

    A Robinson R44 helicopter similar to that used by Great Lakes Helicopters.
    Adam Loader /

    But temporarily gone are the days of Canadians crossing the border to an airport like Buffalo-Niagara International, Ogdensburg International or Bellingham International, to avoid paying the high taxes levied on international flights between Canada and the United States. Major airlines have largely withdrew from border airports during the pandemic, due to the border closure.

    Allegiant Air packed its bags from Ogdensburg, New York, touted as an alternative to Canada’s capital, Ottawa, just 60 miles north, according to 7 News. Plattsburgh International Airport in New York, an alternative to neighboring Montreal, and Niagara Falls International Airport, an alternative to neighboring Toronto, have also seen some flights disappear during the pandemic, according to the Press. -Republican and the Buffalo News.

    But Southwest Airlines is bracing for the eventual easing of border restrictions and has announced service to Bellingham, Wash., Slated to launch in 2021. Bellingham is just south of Vancouver and could attract residents of British Columbia who looking to head south cheaply.

    Canadians seem eager to flee to the United States by any means necessary, unlike the peak of the pandemic when Americans were shunned from Canada. Cars with US license plates in Canada have been locked and even turned over by some locals.

    According to the New York Times, the United States far outperforms Canada in vaccinations per 100 people, and the mutual decision to keep the border closed will ultimately depend on how easily Ottawa re-allows cross-border travel along from its southern border.

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