By David Sharp / Associated Press
In Old Orchard Beach, popular with Quebecers, innkeepers report that Canadian tourism remains strong despite the harsh words last month when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed that Canada “won’t be pushed around” and President Donald Trump called the prime minister “weak” and “dishonest.”
Canada accounts for the largest number of international visitors to the U.S., with more than 20 million visitors pumping nearly $20 billion into the U.S. economy, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Border crossing data indicates the number of Canadian motorists returning from the U.S. in June grew 12.7 percent from last year, a healthy increase, according to a license plate-scanning system used by the Canadian government.
A so-called “Trump Slump” never materialized after Trump’s election, and travel to the U.S. is growing despite anecdotal evidence that some Canadians are choosing to travel elsewhere, said Allison Wallace, of Flight Centre Canada, a travel agency with 150 locations across Canada.
“All of that being said, we’ve not seen a trade war like this, so that may change,” she said, “but as of now, the U.S. remains a very popular destination.”
Florida accounts for the largest number of visitors from the north, typically snowbirds in the winter. New England is also a popular destination, and beaches like Old Orchard Beach and Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, are an easy drive from Canada’s Atlantic provinces.
Claire Beaulieu, an owner of the Motel Kebek 2, said Canadians will keep coming because of the 7-mile stretch of sandy beach with plenty of rooms, food and a beachside amusement park. Canadians account for 95 percent of her bookings, she said.
“I think it’s going to blow over,” he said. “By this time next year, things will be patched up.”
At least one customer advised her she’ll rethink her plans next summer.
“We are friends. We are neighbors,” she said.
“I hope we’re going to stay friends, and Trump and Trudeau will calm down. I think that we all always be here for the USA, even if we’re having stupid arguments. I think the USA will always be here for us, too. So I’m pretty sure we’re going to through this together.”