CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The U.S. representatives from Northern New England are urging the Department of Homeland Security to safely reopen the U.S.-Canadian border, noting that Canadian tourists are vital contributors to the region's economy.

Canadian tourists spent an average of $19 billion in the U.S., with $500 million across northern New England, the Democrats wrote in the letter dated Thursday to Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Gov. Chris Sununu said Thursday at his weekly news conference that he was expecting this year's Laconia Motorcycle Week to be well-attended, but without the usual strong showing from Canada. The event starts this weekend.

The representatives' letter also noted that 298 Canadian-owned businesses employ 17,000 northern New Englanders.

“Letting vaccinated individuals move across the land border for business travel will stimulate the American and Canadian economies by reducing a significant barrier to business operations," the letter led by U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster of New Hampshire said.

Joining Kuster on the letter were U.S. Reps. Peter Welch of Vermont, Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden of Maine, and Chris Pappas of New Hampshire.

The border has been closed to nonessential travel since March 21, 2020.

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