GREAT FALLS — Great Falls hotels are starting to see more traffic and business, but that’s about to change in the coming weeks with the US-Canada border opening back up, meaning even more business for Great Falls hotels and more cars in their parking lots.
There are many reasons people come to Great Falls and stay in hotels, and soon, more people will be able to do so once the border officially opens again, allowing more tourism into the city and bringing more people into hotel rooms.
Parking lots are mostly without Alberta and other Canada license plates, but that is expected to change once the border opens.
Days Inn hotel owner Scott Shull says the last 18 months have been devastating for his hotel. He says 15 to 20 percent of his business comes from Canada, and that the border opening again will not only help him, but a lot of hotels and businesses in Great Falls.
“Until this summer we didn’t have much of anything. Things just shut down. Not much movement except for construction-type business. It was devastating to our employees. We lost hours. Fortunately, we weathered through that well. We’re looking forward to bringing our Canadian friends back to our community,” Shull said. “They mean a lot to our businesses.”
Without added tourism from Canadians, the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce has noticed a hit across the board to the economy and overall business operations.
They say they have been working since it closed to get it back open and allow for more business in the state and are thrilled for it to be opening again.
Chamber president Shane Etzwiler says the Chamber has been busy working to get the border open for Montana and is glad to see it finally opening.
“Everyone’s excited. We’ve been at the forefront with a couple other organizations sending a letter to President Biden asking him, requesting that he open the border," Etzwiler said. “It couldn’t come at a better time. I mean, earlier would have been much better obviously with summer season but heading into the holiday season, which is the season that usually puts retailers in the black for the year and to have that open is tremendous and we’re excited for that.”
The border is scheduled to reopen sometime in November, with no exact date set at this point.