SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5/AP) — For eight years, Kirk Nicodemus and his wife Monica have given boutique-style tours around Scottsdale. But the Joyrides came to a screeching halt in 2020 when COVID-19 shutdowns stopped travel. “It was very, very bad,” said Kirk, owner of Joy Rides AZ. “I would say roughly we were down 50-85% in business.”
Kirk says business has slowly picked back up, but more than a quarter of his clientele are people traveling from Canada and Mexico. He believes his tours will pick back up to pre-pandemic times when the borders reopen in November. “Not only with us, the restaurants, the merchants, the hotels, I just think that it will be really, really wonderful to kind of feel that good vibe back in our city,” he said.
The U.S. will reopen its land borders to nonessential travel next month, ending a 19-month freeze due to the COVID-19 pandemic as the country moves to require all international visitors to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Danny Seidin, the CEO and president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, says in 2019, people traveling from Mexico spent $6.9 million in retail every day. Adding, the timing of the reopening is ideal. “Nearly the entire country of Mexico has December off, the whole month off, for school, so this is always a huge travel retail month for them. So it’s right in time to get the holiday retail travel in,” he said.
Officials with the Arizona Department of Tourism say that in 2019 people traveling from Mexico and Canada spent $2.3 billion and expect tourism numbers to resume by the end of 2022.
Shopping malls and big box retailers in U.S. border towns whose parking spaces had been filled by cars with Mexican license plates were hit hard by travel restrictions.
In Nogales, Arizona, travel restrictions forced about 40 retail businesses to close on the main strip in the city of 20,000 people, said Jessy Fontes, board member of the Nogales-Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce and owner of Mariposa Liquidation Store, which sells household appliances. His sales fell 60%, and he considered closing but instead cut his staff from seven to two.
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