Canadians head for Arizona as federal government welcomes international travelers once again

After 20 months, the United States is welcoming foreign visitors again, if they have been vaccinated.

Related: International travelers flock to US on 1st day of eased COVID-19 restrictions

The U.S. fully reopened to many vaccinated international travelers Monday, allowing families and friends to reunite for the first time since the coronavirus emerged and offering a boost to the travel industry decimated by the pandemic. The restrictions closed the U.S. to millions of people for 20 months.

American citizens and permanent residents were always allowed to enter the U.S., but the travel bans grounded tourists, thwarted business travelers and often keep families far apart. Travelers must have proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test.

Canadian travellers arrive in Phoenix

"It's been thrilling to get back down here for sure," said Mary Kramer.

COVID-19 restrictions kept the Kramers, who live in Calgary, Canada, from their winter home in the Valley for over a year. They say they didn’t mind the extra steps needed to enter the U.S.

"Vaccination, COVID test, it's actually easier getting here than getting back to Canada. We're just grateful we can do it now. We couldn't do it a year ago," said Pat Kramer.

There has always been a special connection between Canadians and the Valley of the Sun. Stacy Mitchell arrived from Toronto. Mitchell's trip to Phoenix is his first trip out of Canada since the pandemic.

"Is there anywhere better to play golf?" said Mitchell.

Highs in the mid-80s welcomed Canadian visitors to the Valley on Nov. 8. It was the kind of warm welcome they were hoping for.

"Love it. It's fantastic," said Mitchell.

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