“My friends with business say there are no Americans,” said Jim Diodati, the mayor of Niagara Falls, Ont., Earlier this month of his city, which in 2019 hosted 14 million visitors, including about 3.5 million spendthrift Americans. “He’s backing up at a snail speed. “
At the Shaw Theater Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, where 40 percent of the pre-pandemic audience was American, most often from Buffalo, the audience in August and September was only 12 to 15 percent American.
“At this time of year for our holiday shows, Shaw would attract 10% of Americans, but right now we’re only seeing 2%,” said Ashley Belmer, spokesperson for the festival.
The slow return of American visitors has been noted in other places on a recent trip to the Niagara Peninsula – from the Matty Matheson’s Meat and Three BBQ take-out in Fort Erie, to the Flying Saucer restaurant in Niagara Falls, to the The epicenter of the Niagara Home Bakery Butter Pie in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Nonetheless, on a Friday afternoon strolling tourists filled the quaint streets and shops of Niagara-on-the-Lake – it’s just that they were almost all Canadians. In an effort to attract more Americans, some hotels are offering reduced rates per night; at the venerable Prince of Wales, for example, I recently found rates on Kayak starting at 221 Canadian dollars, or about $ 180 (about $ 100 off).
There was one exception, however, to places noting Americans absent: the Honeypot Smokeshop, among the most popular stores selling cannabis in Niagara Falls since the retail sale of marijuana products was allowed across 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 have to remind them that it is illegal to transport it to the United States, but as long as they stay here everything is fine.