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Attractions, events cited as reasons to have border crossing documents

The World Junior Hockey Championships to be held in Buffalo in December and the upcoming bicentennial of the War of 1812 are two of many reasons why the expanded use of acceptable documents for crossing the border has proven valuable, a Canadian government official said Friday.

Marta Moszczenska, one of 13 Canadian consuls general, spoke of the continuing work by officials on both sides of the border "to get the proper documentation into the hands of as many Canadians and Americans as we can."

During a joint news conference at the Erie County Auto Bureau in the Rath Building, Moszczenska and Erie County Clerk Kathleen C. Hochul praised the year-old Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

Moszczenska pledged to work with Hochul "to promote cross-border travel."

Hochul said the news conference was especially appropriate, since the Group of 20 Summit is under way in Toronto.

Moszczenska pointed to the latest figures showing more than 3 million Canadians visit the state through Buffalo annually, collectively spending more than $900 million here.

Nearly 1.6 million New Yorkers travel to Canada from here annually.

Moszczenska noted that a few regional assets fuel cross-border travel, including "the Shaw Festival, Shea's [Performing Arts Center], the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and Niagara-on-the-Lake wineries and, of course, we have one of the world's greatest natural wonders, Niagara Falls."

The consul general said her "hockey-loving fellow Canadians" already have purchased about 60 percent of the tickets for the World Junior Hockey Championships scheduled to get under way Dec. 26 in Buffalo.

Hochul noted that Erie County has issued more enhanced driver's licenses than any other county in the state -- nearly 100,000, or 30 percent of the state's total.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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