vendredi 29 juin 2007

U.S. border policies seen as threat to travel industry

Travel across the Canada-U.S. border near Niagara Falls has slowed to 1972 levels. Tourism officials blame the tighter U.S. controls on cross-border traffic.

So as the government tightens security between the United States and Canada, the longest nonmilitarized border - 3,145 miles on land and 2,381 miles over water - businesses in both countries are growing increasingly wary. A survey conducted by the Niagara Parks Commission of Ontario in 2005 showed that 36 percent of Americans and 37 percent of Canadians said they would "severely curtail" the number of times they crossed the border if a passport was required.

Starting in January, the plan - known as the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative and suggested by the Sept. 11 Commission - will require people traveling by land or sea between the United Sates and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean to present a passport, a less expensive alternative called a passport card or one of several frequent-traveler cards is already available.

Under the revised procedures, U.S. citizens will be permitted to fly to and from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda without a passport as long as they can show proof that they have applied for one.

Fewer people are crossing the border, perhaps because of the common misconception that a passport is already required to cross the border by car or boat. A study taken by the Canadian government in January showed that bridge traffic into Canada was the lightest since 1972.


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