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The Border Closure Won’t Stop Snowbirds Bound For Florida

Published on December 11th, 2020 by Natalie Henley
This post was updated on May 26th, 2023

border closure
j.s. clark/ “Image by”, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Border Closure Won’t Stop Snowbirds Bound For Florida

The Canadian government made a recent amendment to their Canada-U.S. land border closure, extending the cut-off for all nonessential travel through December 21st.  This extension has posed a problem on both sides of the border for many, especially for the following two groups. 

Canadian snowbirds can’t escape in their RVs to the sunny shores of the southernmost United States. Tourism-related businesses, like those in Florida, will experience financial losses with the absence of these masses.  

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How the border closure affects Canadian snowbirds

The land border between the two nations has been closed to nonessential traffic since March 21st due to the pandemic.  Citizens can travel to the United States via air; however, upon returning to Canada, there is a 14-day quarantine stipulation. 

Plus, if the traveler contracts the virus outside Canada, they face a financial hardship of paying off any medical bills. They won’t get any government reprieve on costs.

How a decrease in snowbirds affects Florida businesses 

Tourism-reliant businesses in Florida experience and profit from an influx of Canadian visitors during the winter. However, that does not appear to be the case this year.

To combat this now-present slump in winter tourism, personnel with the Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitor Bureau (CVB) are focusing on marketing tactics for local, in-state, and regional folks.

“What we are seeing in our data is that consumers are still booking travel closer to home and closer to the date they plan to travel than they have before,” Kate Holcomb, the CVB’s director of communications explained. “We will continue to focus our advertising campaigns on our primary drive markets (within a 2- to 4-hour drive) for now, and we have the flexibility to adjust markets, message, audience at any time.”

The Beverly Beach Camptown RV Resort, in Flagler Beach, is bracing for a significant decline in campers, particularly Canadian snowbirds.

Ginnie Mercer, operations manager of the 145 site park, commented. “In the past, it has been up to 10% (of our business), I’m just not sure that we’re going to be seeing that this year. We may have had a couple of cancellations already.”

Snowbirds are still going south despite the border closures

Many Floridians, like Evelyn Fine, president of Mid-Florida Marketing & Research, agree, Canadian snowbirds are some of the most faithful customers. Fine based her statement on feedback from focus groups.

The reports summarized, “Canadian visitors tend to stay longer than other leisure travelers, sometimes for a month or more. They also are intensely loyal, typically returning again and again…”

True to form, Canadian snowbirds are not letting a little border closure ruin their regular winter vacationing down south. Instead, they are flying into the states and shipping their RV across the border. Referred by some officials as a loophole, the entire operation is legal, taking into account all state guidelines are followed when entering new jurisdictions.

Plattsburgh International Airport in New York sees Canadian snowbirds flying in regularly via charters. Snowbird flights coming into the airport were first noticeable in October. Airport director Chris Kreig reported that there are now one to two flights a day, with an estimated 200 Canadian passengers that have entered since then.

One RV transport company that is working with Canadians in this process is Transport KMC of Quebec. A customer drops off his/her RV at St-Hubert airport in Quebec. The RV is driven across the border by Transport KMC. The passenger boards a 15-minute flight to Plattsburgh International Airport. The RV is waiting in the parking lot when the customer arrives at the airport in New York. Charter tickets are 500 CAD per passenger and another 1000 CAD for RV transport.

CTV News of Montreal reported on this tactic Canadian snowbirds are using to escape a white winter in Quebec.

Officials caution Canadian travelers

Clinton County Health Department of Plattsburg released this statement as a caution to travelers,

“Nonessential travel is not recommended at this time, as travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Any travel that isn’t necessary right now is concerning and does have an impact on the overall contact tracing system.” 

The statement continued, “If an individual chooses to travel, they should be aware of travel restrictions in all areas that they may be traveling to or through, including testing requirements, stay-at-home orders, and quarantine requirements.” 

Read more about the current border closure in our previous article here.

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