“My business friends say there are no Americans,” said Jim Diodati, the mayor of Niagara Falls, Ontario, earlier this month of his city, which had 14 million visitors in 2019, of which about 3.5 million Americans spend free. . “It’s crawling back at a snail’s pace.”
At the Shaw Theater Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, where 40 percent of the prepandemic audience was American, mostly from Buffalo, the audience was only 12 to 15 percent American in August and September.
“At this time of year for our holiday shows, the Shaw would attract 10 percent of Americans, but right now we’re only seeing 2 percent,” said Ashley Belmer, the festival’s spokeswoman.
The slow return of American visitors was noticed in other places on a recent trip to the Niagara Peninsula – from Matty Matheson’s Meat and Three takeaway barbecue in Fort Erie, to the Flying Saucer dinner in Niagara Falls, to the butter pie epicenter Niagara Home Bakery in Niagara -on-the-Lake.
Nevertheless, on a Friday afternoon, strolling tourists filled the picturesque streets and shops of Niagara-on-the-Lake – only almost all of them were Canadians. In an effort to attract more Americans, some hotels offer discounted nightly rates; with the venerable Prince of Wales, for example, I recently found rates for Kayak starting at $221 Canadian dollars, or about $180 (about $100 off).
However, there was one exception in places where Americans were absent: the Honeypot Smokeshop, one of the most popular shops selling cannabis in Niagara Falls since retailing of marijuana products was allowed throughout Ontario in April 2020.
“About half of our customers are from the United States,” said Don Finch, a store supervisor. Wisconsin, Tennessee, Texas, everywhere. We need to remind them that it’s illegal to carry it across the border into the US, but as long as they stay here it’s okay.”