By KEVIN DERBY
Canadians already pump an annual $6.5 billion into Florida’s economy
Florida’s two U.S. senators have teamed up in the latest effort to allow Canadians to stay longer in the United States.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., brought out the “Canadian Snowbirds Act” this week with U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., R-Fla., cosponsoring it. The bill would add two extra months to the 182 days that retired Canadians who are 50 and older can stay in the United States each year.
“Tourism is a crucial part of Florida’s booming economy, creating and supporting thousands of jobs all across the Sunshine State,” Rubio said on Thursday. “This bill will be a huge boost to our state’s economy by allowing the millions of Canadian snowbirds who visit Florida each year to stay two months longer.”
“We worked incredibly hard to turn Florida’s economy around, and our tourism industry played a big role,” Scott said. “Last year, Florida welcomed a record 126 million visitors, including 3.5 million visitors from Canada. When we welcome visitors to our state, our communities thrive, businesses grow, and job opportunities are created for Florida families. I’m proud to join Senator Rubio in sponsoring the Canadian Snowbirds Act to allow our Northern neighbors to enjoy two more months of Florida’s incredible weather and allow our tourism industry to continue to thrive.”
The bill has the support of the Canadian Snowbird Association.
“The Canadian Snowbird Association applauds Senators Rubio and Scott for recognizing the significant economic contributions that Canadian retirees make every year in the Sunshine State, and America as a whole,” said Karen Huestis, the president of the Canadian Snowbird Association. “This bill is a win-win for people on both sides of the border.”
Visit Florida is also behind the proposal noting that around 3.5 million Canadians visited Florida last year and added $6.5 billion to the state’s economy. The bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday.
Back in June, U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., brought back 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 and U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-NY, reintroduced the “Canadian Snowbird Visa Act” which they worked together on back in 2017.
“We’re proud to welcome our northern neighbors to our sunny corner of the country,” Deutch said when he brought out the bill. “In fact, their visits to South Florida contribute significantly to our regional economy, helping local businesses and creating jobs. I’m proud to work with my New York colleague to introduce this bill to allow our Canadian guests to extend their stay in the United States.”
Back in early 2017, U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., 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.