Canadians and Americans are spending less time — and less money — in each other’s countries.
David Jacobson, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, recently said that cross-border travel is now faster than it was before 9/11.
Despite the decreased wait times it seems that people are staying closer to home.
In 1999, more than 9.6 million Americans drove across the border into Canada for single-day visits. In 2008, only 7.36 million made the trip.
This downward trend has not been confined to automobile travel; there has also been an overall decrease in air passengers over the last decade. Nearly 170,000 fewer Americans flew into Canada for same day business trips in 2008 than in 1999.
Canadians have also been less likely to go across the border for work. In the third quarter of 2009, there was a 16 per cent decrease in overnight travel to the U.S.
What could explain this shift?
One of the more obvious reasons could be the increasingly robust Canadian dollar. In 1999, the loonie was hovering around 68 cents to the American dollar. Lately the two currencies have been near par.
That might explain why fewer American shoppers would cross into Canada for weekend buying trips, but that doesn’t really explain why Canadians have been traveling less frequently to the U.S.
Another reason may be found in the tightened security measures between the two countries. In June 2009, the U.S. initiated tighter border controls requiring that Canadians arrive at the border equipped with either a valid passport, a NEXUS card, a certificate of Indian status, or an enhanced security driver’s license.
Before the new regulations, Canadians only required a valid ID to venture across the border.
It is believed that nearly 50 per cent of Canadians, and as many as 70 per cent of Americans do not have a valid passport.
Combine tougher border restrictions with concerns over new security technologies such as airport body scanners, and people may feel overly inconvenienced for casual day trips.