Seattle ferry company says Canada is being unfair to sea passengers

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And as the border opens to U.S. visitors by land and air, a Seattle ferry company says it is being treated unfairly for not being able to operate between Seattle and Victoria

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Susan Lazaruk Seattle ferry company says Canada is being unfair to sea passengers And as the border opens to U.S. visitors by land and air, a Seattle ferry company says it is being treated unfairly for not being able to operate between Seattle and Victoria Photo by HANDOUT /Vancouver sun.

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An airplane load of passengers – double vaccinated and everyone with a negative COVID test – can fly to a larger number of Canadian airports from the U.S. starting this week, but a shipload of similarly screened passengers from Seattle will be denied landing in Victoria.

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“We think that’s completely unfair,” said David Gudgel, CEO of Victoria Clipper in Seattle, which carries 250,000 passengers between Seattle and Victoria every year. “We were very discouraged to hear that on Monday. I don’t understand how (ferries) differ from airlines. “

He said Transport Canada cleared the crossings but the Canada Services Border Agency, acting on a “ministerial order,” denied landing to passenger ships but not to recreational craft.

Gudgel also said that CBSA cannot say when or if the ban will be lifted and “timing is crucial here” since the summer season is halfway over. And if the clipper doesn’t resume service before the end of the tourist season, their business will likely be unable to operate during the off-season.

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CBSA did not return a request for comment.

Canada on Monday reopened its border to non-essential U.S. travelers who are fully vaccinated and have a negative test result within 72 hours of entering Canada, causing some U.S. citizens and permanent residents to see for the first time returning to Canada since the border was closed in March 2020.

BC tourism organizations and business groups hailed the reopening, but some said it was too early to say how many American visitors would be returning. And others worried about the possible spread of COVID as Washington state experienced a resurgence of cases caused by the Delta variant, including at Point Roberts.

Whatcom County reported 113 confirmed cases Monday, the most since 160 on Feb. 8, according to the Bellingham Herald. And St. Joseph Hospital in Bellingham reported it was treating the highest number of COVID patients since June.

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Reopening the border is a “welcome change for businesses” in White Rock, said Ritu Khanna, executive director of the White Rock Chamber of Commerce. “But unfortunately we are still in the middle of the pandemic.”

She said chamber members have concerns about customers, not just those from the United States, who fail to respect companies’ COVID protocols or guidelines.

“It’s really important that everyone is vigilant,” she said.

“The US is typically our No. 1 international visitor market,” said Ange Chew, Executive Director of Discover Surrey. “Our members look forward to welcoming you again.”

“It’s too early to say whether our members will benefit from US visitors,” said Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade. “Most of the time, they (returning visitors) are here to visit families and tourist attractions in Vancouver. It’s really not that big an effect in Surrey. “

Hotel bookings between August and December are “double what we saw over the same period last year,” Destination Vancouver’s Sabrina Tey said in an email.

“Yes, the demand has increased”, but “we still have a lot of places to fill. Metro Vancouver’s load factor was around 65 percent last week, compared to 89 percent in the pre-pandemic period.

Companies eager to see US tourists return include Boathouse Restaurant in White Rock and White Rock Sea Tours, according to the White Rock Chamber of Commerce.