I was reading the Jan. 12th recap of the all-candidates’ debate in Fort Frances and wanted to respond to Mr. Rafferty’s comments on the passport issue.
As opposed to supporting the passport issue, I think it would be much more beneficial to Northwestern Ontario if Mr. Rafferty did everything within his power to fight the U.S. passport requirement as it will cost Canada millions of dollars.
The passport issue will hit Sunset Country even harder than most areas in Canada as the tourism industry is heavily dependent on the U.S. visitor. More than 90 percent of tourism visitors to Sunset Country are from States.
The Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) has predicted a 12.3 percent drop in U.S. visitation across Canada by the end of 2007 because of the passport requirement under the proposed U.S. Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI).
Using the 2001 economic impact study of tourism in Sunset Country, the passport impact would be:
•Loss of economic activity ($25 million);
•Loss of jobs associated with tourism (686);
•Loss of wages ($16 million); and
•Loss of taxes—local, provincial, and federal ($10 million).
If Mr. Rafferty considers the tourism industry important to the region’s economy, he should not support the U.S. WHTI passport proposal.
The North Western Ontario Tourism Association (NWOTA), along with other business groups in the region, have been working hard with Mr. Ken Boshcoff, on many of the issues impeding the growth of business in the northwest and paramount among these is the passport issue.