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Canadians look for travel loopholes for annual Yuma trip

Some snowbirds take extraordinary steps to escape the snow - CBS 13's April Hettinger reports

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - The pandemic has had an impact on multiple entities, but nobody has been hit as hard as the travel industry.

Since Yuma is a popular destination spot for winter visitors, the lack of tourism has resulted in a loss of revenue for many RV parks, hotels and Airbnbs.

Christa Parker, assistant resort manager of Westwind RV and Golf Resort says the travel restrictions at the Canadian border have had the biggest impact locally.

"But, they found a way. They have gone through different organizations that bring their vehicles over. They fly over," Parker explained. "As long as they get COVID tested when they arrive and when they leave."

Kimberly Kahl, executive director of Yuma County Chamber of Commerce can attest that Canadians are making things work this year.

"You probably noticed, driving around on the streets, some Canadian license plates because they are able to get here if they fly," Kahl said.

Normally, visitors from all over North America come to Yuma for the nice winter weather, but this year things were different.

"It's definitely affected our occupancy," Parker stated. "At this point last year, we were about full whereas now we're about 19% lower than we were the year before."

Cassidy Blackwell, director of international communication at Airbnb says hosts and the company have also suffered losses, therefore looking to 2021 for recovery.

"Travel is the number one activity that Americans have missed the most," Blackwell stated.

This year, they just got a later start. Even this week, there has been an increase in visitors.

"It's grown. It's really grown. There's been more people," Parker explained. "Our occupancy actually went up. So, where we're down 19% now, like a week ago we were down 22%."

Visitors stay in an RV park for about a month on average.

"Now, are there as many winter visitors this year? Of course not, but we've kind of shifted that," Kahl said. "Now a lot of California visitors are coming."

Hotels have also seen more visitors from California this year since many sports teams have moved their games to our area.

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April Hettinger

April was born and raised in San Diego where she loved the beach town and her two dogs, Lexi and Malibu. She decided to trade the beach for the snow and advanced her education at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.


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