Hey, America, we're keeping you in business...Canada's very strange borders
Got a note from the folks at Canadian Visa to say that over the past two years, Canadian Visa cardholders have been the NUMBER ONE contributor to the U.S. tourism biz. In 2009, the collective "we" spent $7.8 billion down south. In 2010, that rose to $9.2 billion in spending on our Canadian VISA cards, which is a pretty good hike (18 per cent).
Nobody really comes close. UK Visa cardholders spent just $2.5 billion in the U.S., while Mexico was third at $2.0 billion. Slackers.
"Canadian tourists continue to have a positive impact on the U.S. tourism economy," said William M. Sheedy, Group President, The Americas, Visa Inc. "The strong willingness and desire of Canadians to travel across the southern border reinforces the important of the North American tourism industry to the region's continued economic growth."
So the next time you get hassled by a U.S. immigration officer at Pearson, I think you should write this down on a card and say it, very slowly but loudly. "Hey, buddy, you're giving me a hard time? We Canadians are keeping you all from the unemployment line. Yeah, Canada. Our dollar is higher than yours and we're keeping you all from financial ruin and Florida-type bank disclosures. So next time you're thinking of hassling someone, pick on the guy from Portugal."
Yeah, maybe not. But Sheedy's comment made me think for a minute. Southern border? We never think of it, do we? I mean, we all say we're going over the border or south of the border. We never talk about going NORTH of the border unless we're referring to the act of coming home from the U.S. so we can our fix of curling highlights.
Probably this is because we don't search out trips to the Arctic Circle to cross over to Russia. Or as a way of reaching other countries that claim some sort of Arctic sovereignty, including Norway and maybe some other Scandinavian nations. But then I started thinking again about our other borders. Basically, we kinda get ripped off in that department. I mean, Switzerland is landlocked and all but they can get in their Smart Cars (everyone in Switzerland has one) and be in Italy in five minutes, sipping cappucino and slurping plates of spaghetti carbonara. They can drive around the corner and be in France, sampling one of the 4,793 types of cheese the French make or strolling down the Champs Elysees. Shoot, they can take the subway to Munich (and know that it will ALWAYS be on time), or climb every mountain and end up in Austria (not that they'd want to). They can go any time they want to Leichtenstein, for gosh sakes, and how great is that!??!!
Over in Asia, China does pretty good in the border department, with a list of neighbours that includes Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Russia, as well as Mongolia, a sliver of Afghanistan and North Korea. Great takeout food options, for sure, and wonderful vacation spots (well, maybe not ALL of them). Our only real option without an icebreaker or a pack of sled dogs is the U.S., and even though it's a great place it's kinda boring to have only one real southern neighbour.
Anyway, so what about our other borders? I'm glad you asked. Our most immediate western border is with the United States, as Alaska borders on the Yukon, right? I don't think we really have a western border for British Columbia, although the Kuril Islands south of Kamchatka, Russia would be next if you cross the Pacific along the 49th parallel. Our eastern border? Denmark, that would be, as the mighty Danes control Greenland, which butts up against some of our property up around Baffin Island.
Further east? I didn't know this, but if you draw a line directly from St. John's to Europe, you cross into France somewhere in Brittany. Not really a border, I don't think, but still interesting if you're a person who wakes up at 3 a.m. and wanders downstairs to read the atlas.