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Call for Open Borders: Polar Bear and Beluga Whale Tourism in Canada

Canada-U.S. border closure shuttering the Canadian tourism industry

The Churchill Beluga Whale Tour Operators Association (CBWTOA) called, today, for the immediate re-opening of the Canada-U.S. border for tourism with a return to pre-Covid-19 regulations. Closure of the Canada-U.S. border for non-essential travel since March, 2020, resulted in a shut-down of Canadian polar bear and beluga whale tourism from which it will be difficult for the industry to recover.

Said the President of the CBWTOA, Wally Daudrich, “We, the Churchill Beluga Whale Tour Operators, call on the Government of Canada to re-open the Canada-U.S. border to tourism with immediate effect following the pre-Covid-19 regulations for tourists.”

Tour operators are facing the possibility of a third season far below their capacity for tours. Historically, most polar bear and beluga whale tourists come from outside Canada, mainly from the United States. Reduced demand means fewer tours, fewer guest rooms occupied, fewer meals and beverages served, fewer jobs and hours to work and fewer gratuities paid to workers.

For remote, Canadian communities like Churchill, Manitoba, tourism is the primary job creator, economic driver and source of tax revenue that keeps these communities solvent and viable. This is not just tour operators’ ‘bread and butter.’ Workers in Churchill depend on polar bear and beluga whale-watching and hospitality service jobs to feed, house and clothe themselves and their families.

“As provincial governments and health authorities are re-opening and permitting normal retail activities in their jurisdictions, we think it is time for the Government of Canada to re-open the longest, undefended border in the world for Canadian tourism. We want tourists from outside Canada to be as free to come and go as the polar bears and beluga whales are to visit the Churchill, Manitoba, coastline!

“Surely Canadian tourism workers and operators have suffered long enough,” added Daudrich.

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Dmytro Makarov

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