Canadian tourism businesses brace for American travelers

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Ahead of Canada’s border reopening Aug. 9, popular tourist attractions are quickly preparing for an influx of Americans.

Among the organizations scrambling is the Victoria Clipper.

Currently, the plan is to restart voyages to Canada by mid-August.

In the process, dozens of employees have been called back and trained at a breaking pace.

“I’ll be on that voyage for sure — and really looking forward to reconnecting,” said David Gudgel, CEO of Clipper Vacations.

Also along the water, Canada’s whale-watching companies are bracing for an influx of Americans.

“Being able to move across the border is going to be big on both sides of the border,” noted Erin Gless, Pacific Whale Watch Association.

Before the pandemic, 85% of people on Canadian whale -watching expeditions were Americans.

At once, the reopening of the border will mean a resurgence in business.

“This means a lot,” Gless said. “(Bookings) are down 90% of what they would normally be carrying in the summer months.”

And then there’s fun in the mountains.

Employees at Whistler Blackcomb confirmed to KIRO 7 that they’ll be all set for American visitors next month.

“We are encouraged by the Canadian Government’s announcement to allow vaccinated U.S. visitors beginning on August 9th and Whistler Blackcomb will be ready to welcome our American guests back to the resort this summer,” the resort expressed in a statement.

In a sign of just how hectic things are right now, workers at Whistler Blackcomb are so swamped that they were unable to talk to KIRO 7 on camera.

Whether it’s in the sea or on land, people in the travel industry said they’ve waited 17 long months to get to this point.

“To have this division and inability to see each other face to face has really been a challenge,” said Gudgel.