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President proposes a cost to cross
Published Friday, February 18, 2011 11:29AM MST
The US government is looking at adding a passenger inspection fee to Canadians who fly or travel by boat into the United States.
U.S. President Barack Obama proposed the $5.50 fee in the 2012 draft budget he submitted to Congress on Monday.
Currently, visitors from Canada, Mexico, and some Caribbean countries have been waived from paying a fee. Obama says that millions would be added to government coffers and would help offset the costs of increasingly intensive air-passenger inspections.
The charge would apply only to those Canadians who fly or travel by ship into the states. Private vehicles would be exempt.
Statistics Canada says some 16 million Canadians flew into the U.S. in 2009. If all were charged $5.50 each it would translate into almost US$90 million in revenue.
According to statistics reported on Thursday, Canadian tourists took 4.1 million trips to the US in December last year.
Same-day car travel to the U.S. rose 6.7 per cent to 2.3 million trips in December, the highest level in three years, while air travel in December rose 1.1. per cent to 592,000 trips.
Many Calgarians heading to U.S. destinations don't like the idea even though it's only in the proposal stage.
Airline analysts and travel agents say most flyers will reluctantly pay the fee.
"I think there will be people who do say that, and they'll take driving trips within Canada, or they'll drive to the states," said Shelley Ewing from Tier One Travel, "I think most people will absorb it, it's just part of the cost of traveling."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says there are better ways for Washington to raise money than to charge Canadians who travel to the United States.
(With files from The Canadian Press and CTV.ca)