Helping 'Dark Island' Bring In Canadian Visitors
A Canadian senator wants to make an American tourist attraction a lot more popular.
Senator Robert Runciman has asked for help from his U.S. counterpart, Senator Charles Schumer, in making Singer Castle on Dark Island - near Chippewa Bay - a 'seasonal' port of entry.
That means Canadian tour operators would be able to take boatloads of tourists directly to Dark Island, rather than checking in at Boldt Castle, which adds about an hour to the trip.
So, when a boat of Canadians pulls up to the American island, they usually can't go on.
"Most of the reaction is, 'I think we'll do it another day' and then they go back to Canadian waters once they realize that we are U.S. soil," said Thomas Weldon, president of Dark Island Tours.
Just like coming to the U.S. by car, Canadians traveling by boat have to check in before entering the country.
But the closest check-in is at Boldt Castle nine miles away.
That's why Runciman sent a letter to Sen. Charles Schumer and Congressman Bill Owens, among others, asking to make Dark Island a seasonal point of entry.
"They can go directly to the castle rather than having to go through Boldt Castle, which eliminates a lot of potential attendees. I think it has significant benefits on both sides of the border," Runciman said.
If a Customs check-in is installed, Weldon expects Singer Castle's attendance rates to jump from 22,000 a year to 40,000.
Weldon says its not just about Singer Castle. Making Dark Island a point of entry could help other businesses along the St Lawrence.
"When private boaters clear at Singer Castle," Weldon said, "then they'd be able to go to Blind Bay, Schermerhorn Harbor, Chippewa Bay, Morristown."
Owens says he asked the Department of Homeland Security to look into it.
If the agency decides a Customs check-in will increase tourism enough, Owens hopes to have one on the island by next spring.
Sunday, May 26, 2013, Watertown, NY
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