The Frontier Duty Free Association (FDFA), representing independently owned, land border duty free businesses, has released an economic report which relays that a ‘severe economic decline’ over the peak summer tourist season, which has resulted in an average sales decrease of around 45% for member stores across the country, compared to 2019 levels.
Shuttered for nearly two years, the export stores were down more than 95% in sales during the full closure of the land border for 18 months.
As reported, the Covid-19 pandemic and the US/Canada border closure had a devastating impact on Canada’s land border duty free industry and recovery is stalled due to federal travel restrictions and the required use of the ArriveCan app.
“When this pandemic began, our border businesses followed public health measures and federal recommendations,” said FDFA Executive Director, Barbara Barrett.
“When Covid-19 was at its peak and border measures were effective at slowing transmission rates, we did our part to keep Canadians safe.
ArriveCan App still a barrier
“Now, we have been left behind in the recovery effort as restrictions and the ArriveCan App are still barriers. And even worse, the federal government has ceased all of its supports.”
The report also highlights that air travel has been allowed to resume in such high volume that Canada’s air infrastructure is struggling to process the number of travellers, meaning that unvaccinated travellers are clear to travel thousands of kilometres across the country.
“Land borders, on the other hand, are regulated at the expense of communities whose entire livelihood depend on the back-and-forth crossing of the Canada/US border,” added FDFA.
The association is now calling on the federal government to lift the barriers to recovery and unnecessary conditions like the ArriveCan app to cross borders. FDFA says these measures are no longer meaningful or helpful and only serve to harm border communities and border community businesses.
“This is a matter of fairness,” said Barrett. “As long these barriers to travel remain on our land border, we cannot recover and border businesses like ours and border communities will continue to struggle.”
FDFA has presented the federal government with a suggested recovery package in light of the fact that border traffic is being restricted on an ongoing basis.
Barrett added: “Our retailers closed to protect Canadians and we deserve not to be left behind. These unnecessary border measures are killing a 40-year-old export sector and doing nothing to help keep Canadians safe.”