BILLINGS — According to the Billings Chamber of Commerce, the reopening of the Canadian border will benefit Yellowstone County by increasing opportunities for businesses in tourism and international trade.
Annually, Billings sees over 2.6 million tourists a year, and according to the Institute for Tourism and Recreation, roughly 14% of Montana’s total visitors were from Canada in 2014, the most recent data available.
“To have our borders reopen and have people who would typically visit, spend, and invest in our communities in Montana be able to return is a very important next step for us in economic recovery,” said Aly Eggart, the leisure marketing manager for the Billings Chamber of Commerce.
The border reopening will not only benefit businesses here, but also Canadian tour companies visiting Montana.
“We typically see a lot of international tourists that road trip around the state, and we work with foreign tour operators and companies to help facilitate itineraries, attractions, and things for them to do while they’re here. This year, not having that has hurt our businesses and it also affects those that we’re working with in the foreign trade market and missing that visitation and business,” said Eggart.
Canada is Montana’s largest trade partner, and although a large percentage of the trade is through pipelines, a closed border still has a big impact.
“During the closures, it represented a 24% decrease in bilateral trade with Canada, so minerals, oil, gas,” said Allison Corbyn, the business recruitment director for Big Sky Economic Development.
Montana and Yellowstone County also see a large number of workers come in from Canada.
The Canadian and Mexican borders will reopen in early November.