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Jan 26, 2024

TIABC Voice of Tourism Newsletter – January 26, 2024

TIABC

While I try not to pay much attention to American politics, one can’t help but hear about Donald Trump being heavily favoured as the Republican nominee to challenge President Biden in the next US election. This week the New York-based megalomaniac is once again dominating news headlines around the world after recent primary wins.

Seeing the media hype reminds me of Trump’s first election campaign where he was also front-page news virtually every day, particularly after making a series of curious promises that included building a giant security wall along the US-Mexico border to be paid for by Mexico. The wall was intended to stop the flow of migrants into the US and relieve border states from the obligation of handling desperate people in search of a better life. Many Americans supported the wall idea.

During Trump’s presidency, some 732 kilometres of the wall was fortified while nearly 80 kilometres was newly constructed, partly paid for with private money in addition to funds provided by the US Department of Defense. Although much of the construction stopped once Biden was elected, there is now increasing pressure by mayors of several states to better secure America’s southern border (e.g. a bigger wall) given that some 225,000 migrants either attempted to cross or made it into the US last month alone.

That same pressure is being felt here in Canada too. Last year, the US Secretary of Homeland Security asked our federal government to reinstate the Visa requirement for visitors from Mexico citing a major problem with Mexicans illegally entering the U.S. from several regions in Canada. Similarly, Premier Francois Legault jumped into the fray this week arguing his province can’t handle the flood of Mexican refugees looking to settle in Quebec and recommending that Canada once again tighten visa requirements.

Last weekend, federal Minister of Public Safety, Dominic LeBlanc intimated that all options are on the table…which obviously got the attention of the tourism sector considering how valuable a market Mexico is for Canada and knowing that any travel barrier (e.g. visas) severely curtails the flow of visitors. Originally implemented in 2009, the feds lifted visa requirements in 2016 after years of lobbying by the tourism sector for their removal, resulting in a steady increase in tourists from the land of the sun.

In 2022, visitors from Mexico represented the third largest international market for British Columbia. From January to October 2023, Mexico was the only international market to perform better than 2019. Moreover, given the growing number of flights between BC and many parts of Mexico, it’s not only a key market but one with even more potential.

While at the Impact Conference in Victoria this week, I flagged this emerging issue to our national counterparts at TIAC and next week intend to rally my provincial and territorial colleagues to individually and collectively press the federal government to resist pressure by Quebec, and especially the United States to reinstate visa requirements, and instead consider other measures to handle the flood of Mexican refugees to our respective countries. We’ll keep you posted as this issue continues to unfold.

Should Donald Trump win the Republican nomination and is elected to a second (split) term as POTUS, he’s promised to continue building or fortifying the wall separating the United States and Mexico, which will further magnify an already large humanitarian crisis.

For now I’ll try to ignore the US political scene as best I can since we have enough problems of our own in this country. Case in point, the feds recently put up a wall of sorts by capping the number of international students who desire to study in Canada. I’ve heard from several of TIABC’s post-secondary institution members that government’s new policy could be detrimental to their tourism programs given they rely on foreign students to help meet their enrolment and budget targets. There is much more to this issue that I’ll endeavour to address in the coming weeks.

Walt Judas,

CEO, TIABC

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