NIAGARA FALLS, NY (WIVB) — Just hours after the US Department of Homeland Security announced another one-month extension to restrictions on non-essential travel for Canadians, Congressman Brian Higgins, (D) of New York’s 26th district, didn’t hold back his frustration.
“The White House is silent on this, in addition to being unacceptable,” said Higgins, who made an appearance in Niagara Falls, NY. “The Biden administration raised an expectation. they said we were going to get back to a sense of normalcy by July Fourth. We’re long past that date. No explanation, no vision coming out of the administration, the White House as to what people can expect.”
At the Fashion Outlets of Niagara, the general manager, John Doran tells News 4 the mall management has actually been “very favorably pleased since reopening” early in the pandemic last July, and that Western New Yorkers and many shoppers from “neighboring states have been very good to us and filled that void” left by lack of Canadian shoppers.
Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino says hotel occupancy this July is also up between 12 and 18 percent higher than it was in July 2019, before the pandemic. But it’s a different story when the summer tourist season ends in Niagara Falls. “That’s when the outlet mall and all of these businesses that rely on that constant Canadian commerce, that’s when they’re gonna start seeing it difficult to keep their head above water.”
The management office of the Walden Galleria would not get into specifics about how the lack of Canadian shoppers has affected their business, but provided the following statement;
“We’re eager and excited to welcome back our Canadian friends to Walden Galleria once the border is allowed to fully reopen. We know our tenants share in this excitement and will be ready to roll out the red carpet at the appropriate time.”
George Richert is an award-winning reporter who first joined the News 4 team in 1998, later returning in 2018. See more of his work here.