Oh Canada! Visitors To Florida Need To Be Allowed To Stay Longer

By: KEVIN DERBY – SUNSHINE STATE NEWS 

Members of the Florida delegation on Capitol Hill continue to champion proposals to allow some Canadian citizens more time to vacation in the United States.

Last week, Florida’s two senators–Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio–unveiled a proposal giving some Canadians up to eight months to vacation in the U.S., changing the current law which gives them six months. Nelson’s and Rubio’s proposal would let Canadians who are over 50 and either own or rent property in the U.S. the two extra months while adding provisions that they cannot work or take public assistance while here.

“It’s no secret that Canadians love to visit Florida in the winter,” Nelson said. “The millions of Canadian snowbirds who visit our state each year play an important role in our state’s tourism-driven economy. Allowing them to stay even longer is a win for them and for the local economies they visit.”

Nelson‘s office noted that Visit Florida found that 3.2 million Canadians visited the Sunshine State in 2016 while the Canadian embassy insisted that these visitors added more than $4 billion to Florida’s economy.

Other members of the Florida delegation have also worked on the issue. From his perch on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee in May 2017, U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., went to bat for a proposal to extend the amount of time Canadians who own or lease a home in the U.S. can stay there during the year.

Deutch paired up with U.S. Reps. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-NY, to bring out the “Canadian Snowbird Visa Act.”  Much like the legislation that Nelson and Rubio brought out last week, the bill extends the amount of time Canadians older than 50 and who own or lease property in the U.S. can stay, moving the current six month limit up to eight months. Under the legislation, these Canadians would not be able to work in the U.S. or receive public assistance.

“If our chilly neighbors to the north want to spend more time on our warm Florida beaches, we should welcome them with open arms,” Deutch said when the bill was introduced. “Canadians contribute over $4 billion to Florida’s economy every year, helping to create jobs and support businesses in our communities. This bipartisan legislation will boost our economy and create new jobs by inviting more Canadian visitors to visit the Sunshine State for even longer stays.”

Back in February 2017,  U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, teamed up with U.S. Rep. Albio Sires, D-NJ, to bring out the “Promoting Tourism to Enhance our Economy Act.” The proposal would let seniors from Canada who own a secondary residence in the U.S. visit for 240 days a year instead of the current 180 days. They would still be classified as nonresident aliens and would not be eligible for public assistance.

Both Yoho and Sires, who also sits on the Foreign Affairs Committee, pointed to the economic benefits that Florida and other parts of the nation could garner from having Canadian seniors stay longer.

“Tourism is a vital industry in Florida, and many Canadian citizens have vacation properties or rentals in our state,” Yoho noted when he brought out the bill

“This contributes a great deal to the economy in Florida,” Yoho added. “This sensible legislation will ensure that our friends to the north are able to extend their stay in the U.S. for two additional months without any additional costs to American taxpayers. Canada is one of America’s closest allies and her citizens contribute millions of dollars to the U.S. economy. This bill will provide an incentive for additional tourism from Canada in the future and will strengthen the bond between our two nations.”

More international tourists visit Florida from Canada than any other nation. Back in 2015, the Canadian General Consulate in Miami released a study showing visitors from that nation to Florida lead to jobs in the Sunshine State.

“Despite the thousand miles which separate Canada and Florida, Canada has an enduring impact on the Florida economy that extends well beyond oil, timber and snowbirds,” the Canadian General Consulate noted. “Canada has for decades and remains today the state’s most significant economic partner, supporting over 620,200 Florida jobs, sustaining a thriving bilateral trade relationship and integrated manufacturing, and supporting Florida’s real estate and tourism industries.

“As Floridians know, Canadians love the Sunshine State,” the Canadian General Consulate continued. “Canada is Florida’s number one source of international tourism, with more than four million visits by Canadians – a figure which is growing by 4 percent annually. Canadian tourists spend 50 percent more time in Florida and 74 percent  more dollars annually than before the recession, and outstrip all other foreign visitors to Florida, in part by virtue of our long stays. Hundreds of Floridian businesses and thousands of employees depend on Canadian tourists, and especially on the seasonal snowbirds, who return year after year.

“Canadians remain Florida’s number one international purchasers of real estate, accounting for more than 30 percent of all foreign homes sales in 2013,” the  Canadian General Consulate added. “Canadians purchase approximately 6 percent of all homes sold in Florida. Loyal snowbirds and other Canadians who own property in the state inject nearly half a billion dollars annually into the economy through property taxes

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News Talk Florida Staff