Every day buses full of tourists arrive at Destiny USA. Many of them are from Ottawa or Ontario, Canada and spend the day shopping in Syracuse. Last year out of town guests generated $12 million in sales tax revenue for Onondaga County and Canadians were responsible for at least 25% of the mall's sales. On Tuesday, most of the Canadians getting back on a large tour bus said an entry fee at the border would limit their trips into the U.S.
"I think that it's a disgrace and we'll stay home," said one woman as she prepared to board her return bus to Canada.
The Department of Homeland Security asked for permission to study an entry fee to help cover border crossing costs. Lawmakers from nearby states have pledged to stop it. The House Appropriations Committee has already passed a bill introduced by north country Congressman Bill Owens that would stop the study. The full house will vote on it next.
The president of the Syracuse Convention and Visitors Bureau said he was very concerned about the effect a border crossing fee would have on tourism in the Syracuse area.
"You look at a place like the Landmark Theater where tickets for Jersey Boys - 30-40% of those tickets were sold in Canada," said David Holder.
Ena Davis came from Ontario, Canada to visit Destiny USA and didn't understand why the U.S. would even consider a fee that would deter Canadians from crossing the border.
"It's a bad idea because it will cost them in the long run," said Davis. "The U.S. is dependent on tourism as is Canada. We have been partners and allies for years."
In addition to hurting tourism, lawmakers from several states say the are concerned that a fee could increase already lengthy wait times at the U.S. border.