Canada Snowbirds Forced To Adjust Their Plans As U.S. Extends Its Land Border Crossing Closure.
Updated: Oct 12, 2021
News of the extension of the land border closure came on September 21st, the same day that the U.S. announced it is opening international air travel arrivals to vaccinated foreign national travellers by this November.
The U.S. land border has been closed since the beginning of Covid-19 restrictions in March of 2020. Many of Canada's nearly half million snowbirds were hoping that the U.S. would open the border after Canada recently began allowing U.S. nationals to cross into Canada at land border crossings. The U.S. has however extended the land border closure to October 21st, which for many snowbirds may be too late to begin their annual pilgrimage south to their places in the sun.
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The Canadian Snowbirds Association (C.S.A.) has been hard at work advocating for the land border crossings' reopening on behalf of Canada's snowbird population. The C.S.A. says "This is an advocacy priority as over 70 per cent of Canada's snowbirds travel to the U.S. with their Canadian vehicles." Many snowbirds say they are not prepared to wait around since the U.S. appears to be in no rush to open the land crossings to, among other travellers, RV owners heading for their annual winter roosts in warmer, snowbird climates such as Arizona, California, Florida and Texas.
On average, many RV owners will spend as much as $25,000 CDN or more during their prolonged 6-month stays in the States. The border crossing closures have gravely impacted many small businesses that have relied upon and serviced the large swath of Canada Snowbirds who pass through their commercial zones and settle in at popular RV resorts and private villa communities in sunspots across the U.S.
As an example of the financial impact snowbirds have down south, Canadians are Florida's number one international tourist market and snowbirds make up a large percentage of those visitors to the sunshine state, bringing in revenues of nearly $3-billion dollars annually to the State's balance sheet. No wonder Florida has reintroduced a bill that, if passed, will allow many snowbirds to extend their stays to 8-months per year instead of the 6-month maximum-stay currently in place.
While the October 21st target date for the border reopening is fast approaching, it is not guaranteed and may be subject to a further extension by the U.S. Government. Travellers may of course fly into the U.S. (at the time of this article's release: Sept 24, 2021) and rent a car or an RV based on availability, however many are choosing to stay put in Canada for the winter, which has led to a lot of snowbirds desperately searching through Canada's limited supply of RV resort vacancies in the snowbird-preferred, milder Canadian winter climates such as Vancouver Island, or BC's southern hotspots such as Osoyoos or further north to the Okanagan and limited other mild winter climate locations across the country.
Meanwhile, Americans are able to cross in their vehicles into Canada for non-essential travel subject to Canadian entry laws. Just over 4,000 cars per day are making the crossing into Canada, which is down sharply from pre-pandemic levels of approximately16,000 cars per day in 2019.