Arizona business leader says ‘snowbird season’ will suffer from border limits
PHOENIX – Arizona’s economy has taken a double shot from the coronavirus pandemic, one of the state’s top business leaders said.
Before the border with Mexico was closed to nonessential travel because of COVID-19 in mid-March, visitors were spending about $8 million daily in Arizona. Now, the annual influx of Canadian visitors – aka snowbird season – is in jeopardy, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry President-CEO Glenn Hamer said.
“Communities across the state, including Mesa and Yuma, rely on snowbirds from western Canada to drive into Arizona for the fall and winter,” Hamer said Tuesday to KTAR News 92.3 FM. “Our tourism sector in Arizona remains badly hurt and is the most impacted industry by the pandemic.”
Tourism is a $25 billion a year industry in Arizona, with about $1.5 billion coming from Canadians, who generally stay from end of October until early April.
“Our friends from the north play a huge role in our economy,” Hamer said.
He believes overall tourism figures will be sliced up to 60% this year.
“Arizona’s congressional delegation needs to press the administration to negotiate an agreement for a safe cross-border travel,” Hamer said.
“Kicking the can down the road month after month with no plan in place is no longer the acceptable default,” he added.
Hamer said he’s confident the world’s most prosperous trading bloc of the United States, Canada and Mexico can figure out how to safely travel during the pandemic.