December 22, 2017

Hirono: Canada Preclearance Agreement Approval Will Benefit Hawaii, U.S. Economy

WASHINGTON, D.C.Senator Mazie K. Hirono applauded Canada’s approval of legislation to implement a 2015 agreement with the United States to expand U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) preclearance locations at airports in Canada.

“Canada’s approval of the 2015 preclearance agreement strengthens our close bilateral ties and advances opportunities to support Hawaii’s second largest international visitor market,” said Senator Hirono. “The preclearance expansion will create Hawaii jobs, while easing airport congestion and improving services for Canadian visitors to Hawaii and the United States.”

“We’d like to thank Senator Hirono for her leadership and steadfast efforts to approve the agreement to expand preclearance for travel between the U.S. and Canada, an important source of visitors to Maui and customers for Maui businesses,” said Leslie Wilkins, President and CEO of the Maui Economic Development Board. “Canada’s approval of legislation to enact this agreement is great news for our state and county which have seen the benefits of preclearance first hand and further expansion will open new opportunities to drive economic growth and job creation in our local communities.”

“This expansion of the preclearance agreement is a credit to the diligence of Senator Hirono to make travel to Hawaii a more efficient and accommodating process for visitors from the Toronto and Quebec regions,” said George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. “Canadian citizens have had a longstanding affection for the warmth, beauty and way of life in the Hawaiian Islands. With this expanded agreement, Hawaii becomes an even more appealing vacation option for travelers from eastern Canada.”

“The visitor industry welcomes this enhanced streamlining of the entry process from one of our major markets, Canada. We hope the convenience of preclearance will encourage even more Canadians to travel to the Hawaiian Islands, and we're grateful to Senator Hirono for her leadership in supporting another measure that stimulates travel between our nations,” said Mufi Hannemann, President and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association.

“The signing and enactment of this preclearance agreement will make cross-border transit between the U.S. and Canada more efficient for business travel, tour operators and independent leisure travel, including travelers from Hawaii, and send a positive signal to the investment and business climate, while maintaining the security of our borders,” said Chamber of Commerce Hawaii President Sherry Menor-McNamara.

“Direct flights from Canada to Kona play a key role in facilitating travel and business for Hawaii Island residents and visitors alike” said Wendy Laros, Executive Director of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce. "We appreciate Senator Hirono's work to expand preclearance between the United States and Canada which will offer our local and state economy new opportunities to grow."

Senator Hirono cosponsored the U.S. implementing legislation, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 16, 2016. With U.S. and Canadian legislation in place the bilateral agreement, formally known as the Agreement on Land, Rail, Marine, and Air Transport Preclearance, allows for the further expansion of preclearance to rail, sea, and ground transportation in each country.

The Honolulu, Kahului, Kona and Lihue Airports currently receive precleared flights operated by Air Canada and WestJet on a regular or seasonal basis from Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Toronto. With the implementing legislation now enacted in both countries, plans can proceed to open new CBP preclearance locations at Canadian airports, cruise terminals, and rail stations. New ports of entry planned for preclearance include Toronto’s Billy Bishop City Airport, Quebec City’s Jean Lesage International Airport, and Vancouver’s cruise terminal.

According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, nearly 470,000 Canadians visited Hawaii including 23,000 by cruise ships in 2016 – contributing almost $1 billion to the state’s economy and supporting over 11,000 jobs.