OTTAWA — Thunder Bay-Superior North Member of Parliament Bruce Hyer states, “Cutting passport fees would encourage tourism in Canada from the United States, and would make it easier for Canadians to travel. We’ve seen a steep drop in US tourists visiting Canada in recent years: a decline of 20% since 2005. There are many reasons for this, but one is the added cost of mandatory passports.”
The MP has introduced legislation calling on the government of Canada to negotiate a joint reduction in passport fees with the United States, in order to boost tourism between the two countries.
Hyer comments, “80% of tourist visitors to Canada still come from the United States, yet only about a third of Americans hold passports. It can cost up to $135 to obtain a passport in the US, a significant cost for a family wishing to come to Canada for vacations. Canadian passports cost between $87 and $105, but the fee must be paid every 5 years by those wishing to renew their passports”.
The motion Hyer introduced reads:
Mr. Hyer (Thunder Bay-Superior North) – That, in the opinion of the House, the government should immediately: (a) initiate negotiations with the United States of America to reduce passport fees in both countries as a way to increase and facilitate tourism; and (b) promote a limited-time, two-for-one passport renewal or new application fee, based on a mutual agreement with the United States.
The motion was based on a resolution passed by 11 US States and 4 Provinces at the 2010 Midwestern Legislators Conference in Toronto, written by former NDP representative to the Conference. A major concern of the border states and provinces was the impact new US rules for mandatory passports would have on cross-border tourism and trade. Some Canadian provinces joined the US in issuing cheaper “passport cards” to promote cross-border tourism, but after three years these have seen little uptake in comparison to regular passports.
“We need to make the existing passport system more accessible. The current fees for passport application and renewal are a barrier for Americans considering travel to Canada, and for Canadians who want to travel abroad,” added Hyer. “Reducing fees and a introducing a two-for-one fee reduction for families would help boost tourism, and benefit both countries’ economies.”