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Visitors bike along South Beach in Miami Beach, Fla. Tourism has suffered during the coronavirus pandemic and the state is coming into high tourism season when it would typically see visitors from Canada and the northeast U.S.
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Another Coronavirus Casualty: Florida Tourism
At the Upriver RV Resort in Fort Myers, co-owner Lynda Phillips says most of her Canadian customers, many of whom usually stay for the season, have cancelled. «It has definitely impacted the whole area,» she says. «Hotel and motel space are down.» Phillips says she is seeing more guests than usual from other parts of the U.S., but they’re short-term bookings that don’t make up for the loss of her Canadian snowbirds.
The border is closed until at least November 21. Prime Minister Trudeau has indicated the closure will likely be extended indefinitely. Because the border closure doesn’t affect air travel, some Canadians are flying to Florida this year.
But for those who insist on bringing their cars, Jeremy Rood recently came up with a work-around. «Actually, my parents were wanting to go to Florida,» Rood says. He’s the charters manager for Great Lakes Helicopter in Cambridge, Ontario. He says his parents have a vacation home there and were planning to self-isolate once they got t0 Florida. «And I said, ‘Well you know, that’s not a problem. We can get you across the border by helicopter.'»
A friend with a trucking company loaded his parents’ car on a flatbed and delivered it just across the U.S. side of the border. Rood’s parents picked it up and continued south to Florida. Rood has helped take more than a dozen other Canadians and their cars across the border since then.
U.S. and Canadian Customs officials say it complies with their regulations. And Rood is helping fill a basic Canadian need. He says, «People need to go where it’s warm.»