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Arizonans cheer U.S. border reopening to COVID vaccinated tourists

Arizona’s tourism industry soon should see a welcome shot in the arm.

U.S. officials plan to announce a reopening of the country’s southern border with Mexico to nonessential travelers, according to reports from NPR. The move, which is to be formally announced Wednesday, is to coincide with the northern border into Canada reopening as well.

Officials plan to make the change in November, marking 18 months of restrictions for nonessential border crossings since March 2020.

International travel will be restricted, however, to those fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The change does not apply to illegal border crossings, which have increased exponentially since President Joe Biden took office.

Arizona’s tourism industry, specifically in the state’s southern communities, is likely to see an economic boost.

“This is welcome news for Arizona tourism as we continue to work towards industry recovery. Reopening the northern and southern land borders to leisure travelers is a great next step,” said Becky Blaine, deputy director of the Arizona Office of Tourism. “In 2019, international visitors spent more than $4 billion here, with 81% of those visitors coming from Mexico and Canada.”

The news was welcomed by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

“The opening of the northern border has been achieved, we are going to have normality in our northern border,” Obrador told Reuters on Wednesday.

The state’s business community agreed.

“This is the right decision and a long time coming,” said Danny Seiden, CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “The resumption of cross-border land travel for vaccinated Canadians and Mexicans will allow our friends and family across the border once again to visit Arizona’s attractions, stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, shop in our stores, and help revive our border community communities that have been so badly damaged due to the severe restrictions that have been in place throughout the pandemic.”

While restricting travel was justified by state and federal officials to slow the spread of COVID-19, the sudden halt of incoming nationals took a toll on the travel and tourism industry.

“Declines in international visitation since the start of the pandemic have resulted in more than $250 billion in lost export income and more than a million U.S. jobs,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “The closed Canadian and Mexican land borders alone costs the U.S. economy nearly $700 million per month. The full reopening of international travel to the United States to fully vaccinated individuals is overdue and will provide a jolt to the U.S. economy, travel businesses large and small, and to destinations across America.”

This article was originally posted on Arizonans cheer U.S. border reopening to COVID vaccinated tourists

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