Border retailers can’t help but worry despite the lifting of travel restrictions

Border Report

SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — The plan is to give away “We Love San Ysidro” hats to people entering the United States through the San Ysidro Port of Entry on Nov. 8, when the essential travel restrictions officially go away for those who are vaccinated.

The mayor of San Diego and other dignitaries are planning a big event at the border to commemorate a “new beginning.”

But some can’t help wonder if tourists from Mexico will in fact flock back into the U.S. to shop, dine and visit when the restrictions are lifted.

“This isn’t a reopening of the border, this is back to life for us,” said Jason Wells, executive director of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce.

According to Wells, members of the chamber finally have something to look forward to.

Jason Wells is the Executive Director of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce. (Salvador Rivera/Border Report)

“Try to find a business owner right now but you won’t because they are looking at, ‘OK, do I bring back people, get my inventory ready’ … Like I’ve said many times, a large majority of our customers are coming across that border on foot with tourist visas, these people have not been able to come.”

Wells says the lifting of the restrictions will happen at “the right time.”

“We just hit last month the 1.3 billion dollar mark in lost sales since March 2020, so this is everything for us and it couldn’t come at a better time, 65-percent of our businesses make their entire net between November 20 and January 6th.”

Border crossers who are not vaccinated are still subject to non-essential travel restrictions through at least January.

On the west side of the San Ysidro Port of Entry are several outlet malls that are also looking at increased sales once restrictions fade away.

“Their dependence is over 65 percent on Mexican crossers, it’s a big deal to the entire community,” said Wells.

While everyone, including Wells, appears to be optimistic, some store managers have told Border Report the weak peso might diminish the buying power of some of their customers.

If you drive along San Ysidro Boulevard and checked out the currency exchange houses, you’d notice it takes a bit more than 20 pesos to get $1.

Wells doesn’t see this as a big concern.

“I think the pent-up desire to visit San Ysidro is far greater than the exchange rate.”

Currency exchange houses along San Ysidro Boulevard. (Salvador Rivera/Border Report)

Wells stated the bigger worry should be wait times at the border saying that could be a big deterrent keeping customers from Mexico away.

“If we have five-hour wait times reopening really doesn’t matter much, right?”

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