Passport requirements have been a complicated issue for travelers in North America. Starting June 1, 2009, new travel requirements will be implemented by the USA which will consequently have an effect on Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and 17 nations in the Caribbean region. The WHTI (Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative) will require all persons to present a valid passport when entering the USA by land or sea. As of 2007 these requirements have been in effect for air travel. Because of a friendly border crossing agreement, the Canada Border Services does not require U.S. citizens to present a passport when driving to Canada. This agreement used to be mutual, however the USA wants to strengthen border security and standardize travel documentation.
These new regulations will have a tremendous economic effect on the involved nations. Canada will feel the change more strongly than the USA since a bigger percentage of Canadians have passports compared to Americans. The changes will not affect business travel as much as leisure trips. Niagara Falls, Windsor, Toronto, and Montreal are among some of the most visited places in Canada. Furthermore, the summer is a popular period for many who live close to the border to go on camping trips in Canada. During the summer of 2009, however, there will probably be a huge decrease in travel. The WHTI is expected to lower U.S. travel receipts by close to $800 million (compared to data from five years ago) in the two years following full implementation. Furthermore, according to a report prepared by The Conference Board of Canada, U.S. travel to Canada is expected to fall by approximately 3.2 million trips and the Canada-USA trips by 7.4 million. This report however was prepared at a time when the world was not facing a financial crisis. Consequently, it is now expected that travel would fall by even bigger numbers.
Tourism in North America will most likely face a not so profitable season this summer while travelers try to find their way through the confusion of new travel documents.