Border Crossing Takes Less Than Ten Minutes, No Passport Required, Says Easy Crossing Council

Report reveals misconceptions about delays and passport requirements by U.S. Citizens at Canadian/U.S. Border Crossings

NIAGARA FALLS, Ontario, Aug. 5 /PRNewswire/ — In a report prepared to combat negative perceptions held by American residents over border delays and the notion passports are now a requirement to enter Canada, the Easy Crossing Council (ECC) tabled findings today which indicate there are minimal to no delays being experienced by vehicles entering Canada at Niagara’s border crossings.

The report states a typical crossing into Canada takes less than ten minutes and that there are no delays being experienced for cars crossing Niagara’s three bridges for visitors (The Peace Bridge, The Rainbow Bridge and the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge) 90% of the time. The report also reinforced that passports are not a requirement for U.S. citizens entering Canada or returning to the U.S.

The Easy Crossing Council was formed to combat misconceptions about cross border travel between Canada and the United States along the Niagara frontier and consists of five organizations including: The Buffalo and Fort Erie Peace Bridge Authority, The Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, The Niagara Parks Commission, The Niagara Falls Chamber of Commerce, Casino Niagara and Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort.

“Concerns about the border have created a decline in U.S. visitors to Canada, and Canadians into the U.S. so we’re working hard to dispel misconceptions,” said Tom Garlock, General Manager of the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, operators of the Queenston-Lewiston and Rainbow Bridges. “The fact is, in nearly all cases you can cross the border between Canada and the U.S. in less than ten minutes,” he added.

“We’re getting out there with accurate information,” said Steve Wolstenholme, General Manager of Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort. “The border is a non-issue and there’s lots for people to see and do here in Niagara Falls. Worries about the border and passports shouldn’t deter Americans from visiting this summer.”

“Longer delays during peak periods are no different than traveling on Interstate and 400-series highways during peak periods,” said Ron Rienas, General Manager with the Buffalo and Fort Erie Peace Bridge Authority.

“Both U.S. and Canadian citizens base their perceptions of border congestion on information they have heard immediately following incidents such as the tragic events of 9/11 and SARs,” said Joel Noden, Senior Director with the Niagara Parks Commission. “This new report should help convince our citizens that crossing the border is quicker and easier than most people think.”

Compounding the concerns over border delays is a U.S. Department of State proposal, announced this spring, that would require U.S. citizens and foreign nationals to present appropriate security identification when entering the U.S. This requirement is posted on the U.S. Department of State website. Publicity surrounding this proposal has led many Americans and Canadians to believe that there is a passport requirement for cross border travel.

“Neither American or Canadian citizens need a passport to cross the border or return home and it isn’t likely that they will,” said Carolyn Bones, President of the Niagara Falls Chamber of Commerce. “When the President of the United States voices concerns on a passport requirement and calls for a more flexible approach, it sends a pretty strong signal,” she added.

Recent Statistics Canada figures indicate that day trips to Canada in May ’05 have fallen to the third lowest level in 30 years. Canadians also took fewer trips to the U.S. with Canadian travel falling to 3.1 million trips in May, down 0.4% compared to April.

U.S. visitors to Ontario dropped 9% over last May to 1.6 million. The decline accounts for both same-day and overnight visitors. For the first five months of 2005, the number of Americans visiting Ontario fell 8% over the same period in 2004 and 12% over the same time in 2003 at the height of the SARS outbreak.

The Easy Crossing Council’s mandate is to correct the misconceptions of Americans and Canadians living within a day’s drive of Niagara with facts about the ease of crossing the border and to reinforce Niagara Falls, Canada as an accessible and fun destination.

The ECC has adopted the slogan “No Passport/Few Delays” and are launching a media campaign, including advertising, information cards, a border crossing tip sheet, sponsorships and media outreach to communicate its message with residents in the U.S. border states adjacent to Ontario: Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.

To download a copy of the ECC Report of the report please visit http://www.oeb.com/ecc_report

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