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In Buffalo, Waiting for the Canadians

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“My friends with businesses are saying there’s no Americans,” Jim Diodati, the mayor of Niagara Falls, Ontario, stated earlier this month about his metropolis, which in 2019 hosted 14 million guests, about 3.5 million of them free-spending Americans. “It’s creeping back at a snail’s pace.”

At the Shaw theater pageant in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the place 40 p.c of prepandemic audiences had been American, most frequently from Buffalo, audiences in August and September had been solely 12 to fifteen p.c American.

“At this time of year for our holiday shows, the Shaw would attract 10 percent American, but currently we are seeing just 2 percent,” stated Ashley Belmer, the pageant spokeswoman.

The sluggish return of U.S. guests was famous at different locations on a latest journey to the Niagara Peninsula — from Matty Matheson’s Meat and Three takeout barbecue joint in Fort Erie, to the Flying Saucer diner in Niagara Falls, to the butter tart epicenter Niagara Home Bakery in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Nevertheless, on a Friday afternoon, strolling vacationers stuffed Niagara-on-the-Lake’s picturesque streets and retailers — it’s simply that they had been virtually all Canadians. In an effort to attract extra Americans, some inns are providing discounted nightly charges; at the venerable Prince of Wales, for occasion, I lately discovered charges on Kayak beginning at 221 Canadian {dollars}, or about $180 (about $100 off).

There was, nonetheless, one exception to locations noting absent Americans: the Honeypot Smokeshop, amongst the hottest of shops promoting hashish in Niagara Falls since the retail sale of marijuana merchandise was permitted all through Ontario in April 2020.

“About half our customers come from the States,” stated Don Finch, a supervisor at the retailer. “Wisconsin, Tennessee, Texas, all over. We have to remind them that it’s illegal to carry it over the border into the U.S. But as long as they’re staying here, it’s OK.”