LAREDO, Texas – For many, it’s nothing short of a holiday miracle.
The U.S border reopened to nonessential travelers last week and it’s expected to bring holiday cheer to families and businesses across the state, not only in border towns but also in San Antonio.
The COVID-19 pandemic closed the U.S. borders for 20 months which not only kept many families apart, but it also put a halt to shoppers and travelers, meaning a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars for San Antonio’s economy.
“The impact that south Texas has had has been two billion dollars. Specifically to the San Antonio region, it’s estimated about 400 million,” said South San Antonio Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Al Arreola, Jr.
A steady flow of cars crossed the Juarez-Lincoln International Bridge in Laredo on Thursday. It’s a sign that international travel is starting to return to normal.
The increase in travelers across the border has also brought business to the city of Laredo.
“It’s better quality,” said Martha Espinoza, a woman who traveled from Mexico to Laredo to shop. “There’s more sales, and money goes a long way.”
An estimated 35,000 people are crossing into Laredo from Mexico each day with some waiting up to two hours to cross.
“We have seen since Nov. 8, that when we resumed travel operations for non essential purposes for people who are fully vaccinated travelers, we’ve seen an increase of 60 percent in our pedestrians and over 30 percent in our vehicle passengers,” said Customs and Border Patrol Supervisor Ismael Guevara.
Guevara also said traffic at the Juarez-Lincoln International Bridge will be even busier once it’s gets closer to Black Friday.