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Canada adds customs station to make travel to Arizona, US easier

(Jae S. Lee/AP)
LISTEN: Preclearance, more convenience, please

PHOENIX — Travel between Arizona and Canada just got a big boost as more Canadian airports are adding U.S. Customs stations.

The move lets travelers check their bags before departure, allowing them to speed through local airports like Sky Harbor and Mesa Gateway and onto their destinations faster.

Preclearance, as it’s called, is the latest wrinkle in a long relationship between the two countries with the longest non-militarized border in the world.

“Canada and the U.S. are unlike any other nations in the world,” Glenn Williamson, Founder of the Canada Arizona Business Council, said. “In how they’ve shared security, defense, immigration, all these things. So as all these topics come up around the globe, this is nothing new for this relationship.”

Williamson says Canadian’s have enjoyed a great relationship with Arizona as well. “We have a significant amount of air flight activity,” Williamson said. “We have around 194 non-stop, direct flights a week between Sky Harbor and Mesa Gateway Airports.”

He says that amounts to 900,000 business air travelers a year. Those business travelers are pumping $1 billion into the local economy. Another 100,000 Canadian “snowbirds” — retirees and vacationers looking to beat the rough winters of Toronto, Montreal, Windsor, Calgary, and Vancouver — are putting an additional $1.4 billion into the state.

Williamson indicated anything we can do to make travel between the two nations easier and more convenient will result in continued investment by Canadian interests in Arizona as a place to do business.

And you can’t beat the weather, either.

“By having the preclearance in Canada,” Williamson added, “This has historically helped this entire process along by speeding it at the other airports down here in Arizona.”

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