Officials in southern New Jersey hope Canadian tourists will return now that the US-Canada border has reopened after two years. But some obstacles remain.
“Every dollar they put in their tank today is probably going to impact what they have for their July vacation,” says Diane Wieland, director of tourism and information for Cape May County.
Rising gas prices are worrying officials in many Jersey Shore communities — towns that rely on tourists every year.
“There will be people who can’t afford to go on vacation and then there will be those who cut their vacation short. Maybe instead of a week it will be three or four days,” says Wieland. .
Cape May County not only attracts visitors from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Washington DC, but about 10% of tourists come from Canada. And now that the border is open, most Canadian visitors drive through.
“We know they want to come here. We know they represent a large part of the economic impact for Cape May County. However, we are going to see changes and I can only predict that the stays may be shorter,” says Wieland.
“It will remain to be seen whether these gas prices will curb that desire, as people have been confined to their homes for almost two years. It will be a wait-and-see game,” says Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Cape May County also predicts that the way people spend their money could also change.
“They might not go out to dinner and they might not have three meals. They might only have two or maybe it’s a walk-in kitchen and a pizza and a soda for lunch and then something to take away for dinner, but we know that’s going to happen,” says Wieland.
The Cape May County Tourism Board says Canadian visitors spend around $50-60 million every year, which impacts these beach towns.