CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The U.S. representatives from New England are urging the Department of Homeland Security to safely reopen the U.S.-Canadian border, noting that Canadian tourists are vital contributors to the region's economy.

“Canadian tourists spend $19 billion on average in the United States, including $500 million across northern New England,” the Democrats wrote in the letter dated Thursday to Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “Allowing vaccinated tourists to travel between our two countries will spur job creation on either side of the border and keep our economies on the path to recovery. You should also seriously explore if it is now safe for vaccinated tourists to travel between the United States and Canada.”

The letter also noted that 298 Canadian-owned businesses employ 17,000 northern New Englanders.

“The border closure has made it difficult for businesspeople in both the United States and Canada to conduct cross-border operations," the letter led by U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster of New Hampshire said. “Letting vaccinated individuals move across the land border for business travel will stimulate the American and Canadian economies by reducing a significant barrier to business operations."

Joining Kuster on the letter were U.S. Reps. Peter Welch of Vermont, Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden of Maine, and Chris Pappas of New Hampshire.

The border was closed on March 21, 2020, early during the coronavirus pandemic.

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