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Monday,  July 22, 2024   3:35 PM
New StatCan report highlights changes in Canadian tourism since 1946

The demand for travel abroad remains high. According to the report by Statistics Canada, ‘The evolution of Canadian tourism, 1946 to 2015,’ published on Monday, 32.27 million Canadians travelled abroad in 2015. This figure illustrates a slight decline since 2014, when the figure was 33.53 million, but fits on a curve that shows consistent increases for more than a decade. The decline, in fact, is principally due to decreasing demand for travel to the United States, and not for travel overseas. The U.S. remains the main travel destination, but the demand for overseas travel shows no sign of abating. In 1947, from a total of 1.79 million Canadians who travelled abroad, only 40,000 – 2.23% - went overseas. In 2015, more than a quarter (11.57 million) of 32.7 million Canadian travelers chose a destination other than the United States.

In fact, the number of Canadians travelling overseas has increased regularly since Statistics Canada began taking records in 1946. The only instances of decline occurred in 1981, from 1.59 million to 1.48 million; 1991, from 3.15 million to 2.82 million; and 2002, from 4.83 million to 4.68 million. The first two of these years were marked by severe economic recession. Otherwise, an increase – sometimes mild, sometimes significant – has been registered every other year without exception. Also of note is the fact that in the space of ten years – from 2005 to 2015 – the number of potential customers for travel agents has almost doubled, growing from 6.24 million to 11.57 million. Unsurprisingly, this is twenty-three times the number recorded in 1966.

Decrease in American tourism

The report also deals with foreign visitors to Canada. 2015 had witnessed a recovery in this regard, when the number of visitors passed the 17 million mark – 17.98 million, to be precise. It had slipped below this level in 2009, falling from 17.14 million to 15.74 million. However, we are still a long way from the 20.06 million foreign visitors of 2002! The long period of decline is attributed to the decreasing numbers of American tourists, for four main reasons: the SARS crisis of 2003; the rise of the Canadian dollar, which stayed at a high value between 2002 and 2008; the recession of 2008/2009; and the current law that requires Americans to present a passport when returning to the United States. The flow of Americans visiting Canada has, therefore, slipped from more than 16 million in 2002 to a steady level of 11-12 million over the past few years. Its number was 12.6 million in 2016, an increase of 1.1 million over the previous year.

Tourism from Asia on the rise

There’s another trend that emerges from the report: while Europeans constitute the bulk of tourists coming from overseas, travelers from Asia are on course to surpass them. Chinese tourists have overtaken the French as the second-largest nationality of tourists coming from overseas, behind Britain. In the 1970s, seven of every 10 overseas visitors to Canada were European (70.4% in 1972, compared with 13.5% Asians). In 2015, Europeans accounted for only 46.3% of visitors coming from abroad, while the percentage of Asian tourists had climbed to 33.2%. The percentage of visitors coming from the Caribbean region – Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean – has remained largely the same: 7.8% in 1972, and 7.3% in 2015.

The report is available in full here:

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