North Country Congressman Owens says allowing Canadians to spend more time in U.S. will increase North Country tourism
Monday, February 3, 2014 - 9:01 am

Legislation would allow Canadians to spend more days in U.S. each year, increasing North Country tourism, Rep. Owens says.

A bill in Congress, the Promoting Tourism to Enhance Our Economy Act, which would allow retired Canadians to spend more time in the United States each year, has the support of Rep. Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh), the congressman’s office says.

“Canadian tourists and part-time residents are vital parts of New York’s economy,” Owens said. “Extending the number of days Canadians can spend in the U.S. could mean more Canadian visits in the summer, more spending in local economies, and most importantly, more local jobs.”

The legislation would extend the amount of time retired Canadians older than 55 years could stay in the country within 12 months from 182 days to 240 days.

A recent article in USA Today indicated northern New York stands to gain if the legislation passes. According to the article, Canadians who live near the U.S.-Canadian border often exhaust their current allotment of 182 days during winter stays in southern U.S. states including Florida and Texas. That means they cannot cross the border again for short trips to New York and other northern states in the summer months.

Extending the amount of time Canadians can stay to 240 days allows retirees to spend a full winter in the South and then make short trips across the border in the summer, where they spend money on things like hotel rooms, rounds of golf, goods in local shops and visits to other tourist destinations.

New York is a top destination for Canadians visiting the United States. In 2012, Canadians made more than 4.2 million visits to New York and spent more than $1.5 billion.

During his time in Congress, Owens has focused on increasing Canadian trade and tourism in the United States.

He is the co-chairman of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus.

Earlier this month, the House passed an amendment Owens wrote that essentially kills a proposal for a land border crossing fee, which Owens believes would have threatened New York jobs and wasted taxpayer money.