American tourists aren't worth the risk, poll reveals
HALIFAX -- The introduction of the Atlantic bubble last week is already having an impact on some local businesses, but it may not be enough to sustain them.
Atlantic premiers have suggested the next phase would be welcoming visitors from other provinces when the time is right, but ultimately, some sectors are counting on American tourists to keep them afloat, even if the vast majority of Canadians don't want them here right now.
There's no shortage of dust or noise at Halifax's landmark Atlantica Hotel, which is undergoing a complete makeover worth more than $10 million.
Construction of any kind is usually an inconvenience in the hotel business, but with bookings down 85-to-90-per cent, there aren't many guests to apologize to.
David Clark, the hotel's general manager, has been in the industry for more than 30 years and says the introduction of the Atlantic bubble did help, but it's simply not sustainable.
"To get us back to normal levels, it's going to require a lot more influx of people from all over the country, and eventually the United States, although the United States is not a good idea at the moment," Clark said.
A lot of Canadians seem to agree.
A new survey says a full 86 per cent are dead-set against reopening the border to Americans at the end of the month.
Nearly 40 per cent of Americans also disapprove.
That leaves opening the Atlantic bubble to other provinces as a possible saving grace, and the premiers have said that could come before the end of the month.
"It’s our goal to open up our province to the rest of Canada the second, third week of July," said Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil. "I think that’s the common feeling among the Atlantic Canadian premiers."
Still, McNeil was quick to add it would depend on the epidemiology at the time -- and still does -- according to a government spokesperson CTV News contacted Tuesday.
The province has launched tracking and self-declaration forms online.
That's welcome news, according to Nova Scotia NDP leader Gary Burrill, who notes other provinces had them first, along with transparent reopening plans.
"Some provinces have said, 'OK, now we're in the green phase, we'll be going into the yellow phase,' people understood what that meant as it was talked about over time," Burrill said. "Only in Nova Scotia has there been no staged plan, no phased-in plan, so that when things move to a new level with us in Nova Scotia, it comes at an announcement at 3 in the afternoon and it's immediately in place."
Clark says the hotel is "starting to see some online reservations, people starting to move around. It's going to help for a little bit. I don't know if it's a long-term thing, and with the population of Atlantic Canada, probably less than three million people, you can't sustain this level for a long period of time."
So, for now, any hopes of expanding the bubble are covered in dust and drowned out by noise at one landmark hotel -- an investment in the future that seems somewhat uncertain in these unusual times.