Travel

International visitors to flood Arizona after borders reopen

Arizona’s businesses are soon to get a shot in the arm from COVID-19 vaccinated international visitors as the U.S. reopens its borders to leisure travel.

The Biden administration will reopen the country’s borders Monday for nonessential travel. The opening marks 18 months of borders closed to nonessential travel because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The decision was announced in October. It does not apply to illegal border crossings.

The loosening of restrictions means Arizona’s southern border will allow 3.6 million Mexican tourists to venture north again. That estimate, according to the Arizona Office of Tourism, accounts for the majority of all expenditures in the state by international visitors.

The office said Mexican tourism has an annual economic impact of $2.5 billion, supporting around 30,000 jobs in the state.

Perhaps just as important to Arizona as the southern border opening is the northern border, which will allow thousands of Canadians seeking to escape the country’s harsh winter for Arizona’s temperate season.

Canadian snowbirds and other tourists pump $2 billion into Arizona’s economy annually, according to the Office of Tourism.

Glenn Williamson, Canada’s Arizona honorary consul and CEO of the Canada Arizona Business Council, told The Center Square, “This is what Canadians have been waiting for.”

Nationally, the news represents a reopening to hundreds of billions of dollars in tourism spending.

“After nearly two years of restrictions, Monday begins in earnest the return of international travel, when long-separated families and friends can safely reunite, travelers can explore this amazing country, and the U.S. is able to reconnect with the global community,” U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow said. “It is a monumental day for travelers, for the communities and businesses that rely on international visitation, and for the U.S. economy overall.”

The association estimated the border closure resulted in nearly $300 billion in lost export income and a loss of more than one million American jobs. The group also estimated international travel will not recover to 2019 levels until at least 2024.

This article was originally posted on International visitors to flood Arizona after borders reopen