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New fee on Canadian tourists could hurt local tourism

New York Senator Charles Schumer was in Watertown this week to announce he'll fight a new fee that can be charged to Canadians crossing into the U.S. by boat or by plane.  

The new $5.50 fee was tucked into a Colombian Free Trade Agreement recently passed by the Senate. Schumer said the fee is likely to discourage tourism by Canadians in the north country. 

"The federal government may as well be putting stop signs up at every waterway, at every crossing, at every airport," said Schumer. 

The fee has not yet been enforced, and Schumer says he plans to introduce legislation that would prevent the federal government from ever doing so. Although the fee is small, Schumer called it “a nose under the tent” that could lead to higher fees in the future, and possibly fees on Canadians coming into the U.S. by car as well.

He also pointed out that for a family of five considering coming into the U.S. to have dinner, a total fee of $27.50 might prompt second thoughts about the affordability of such a trip. And he said that's not the only problem. 

"The symbolism is as severe as the actual amount. It sends a very wrong message," he said. 

Schumer says the Canadian government has already contacted his office, supporting his effort to fight the fee. He says he's also concerned the Canadian government might retaliate with a fee of its own on Americans entering Canada. Schumer says the fee is too much of a threat to cross-border tourism in Northern New York to let stand.