August data sheds light on Canada's travel patterns

Published on: Nov 11, 2019 | Tags: Canada Tourism Statistics, Canada Arrivals Statistics


Statistics Canada have released their collected data for visits to Canada by foreign travellers during August 2019. The data give important information not just about the number of visitors to Canada during this period, but also about how they travelled, where they came from, how long they stayed, and more.

Overall travel remains consistent

Travel to Canada from abroad was down slightly in August compared to July, decreasing from 2,720,294 to 2,719,004. However, this small decrease probably reflects general seasonal changes rather than any specific downturn. The overall number of visits to Canada from outside the country in August 2019 was comparable to the number recorded in August 2018. However, patterns within the travel data did show some changes.

Variation in travel from abroad

Visitors from the United States make up the largest proportion of travellers to Canada, and August 2019 was no exception. Travellers from the USA made 2.1 million trips to Canada during this month. Although the number of visits was down 0.4% from July, it represented a 1.9% increase from August 2018. Indeed, the number of visits in August 2019 was the highest figure recorded in August since 2007. Of these 2.1 million trips, 1.4 million were made by car, a 1.5% increase on the number of automobile trips in August 2018. 690,000 of these visits lasted only one day; around 703,000 included an overnight stay in Canada.

Out of the 2,719,004 trips to Canada by foreign visitors, around 630,000 were made by overseas travellers -- that is, travellers arriving from countries other than the United States. The number of journeys to Canada by overseas visitors during August 2019 increased by 1.1% compared to August 2018.

Although travel by overseas visitors was up overall, August 2019 saw increases in visitors from some regions and decreases from others. Travel from Europe declined by 1.7%, with Germany, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland showing the most significant decreases. Not every country in Europe saw a decrease in travel, though; France, the third most common origin for travellers to Canada after the United States and China, saw a slight increase in its number of trips. Europe wasn't the only region with a decrease in travel to Canada; travel from Oceania was also down.

Despite the decrease of travellers from Europe and Oceania, other areas of the world saw increases in travel to Canada. China, second only to the US in the number of travellers it sends to Canada, saw a 3.8% increase in trips to Canada, part of an overall increase in travel from Asia that saw the number of trips go up by 4.2% compared to July 2019. Although this represents a month-to-month increase compared to declines earlier in the summer, visitor figures from China in August 2019 were still down compared to August 2018. The main sources of travellers to Canada from Asia all showed increases in this period, with the exception of a slight decrease in trips from Hong Kong. South America also saw an increase in visitors of 6.3% from July to August, although travel from the region remains down in 2019 compared to the first eight months of 2018.

Destinations in Canada

Travellers to Canada in August 2019 tended to cluster in a few provinces. Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec saw the highest numbers of visitors. Between them, these three provinces accounted for the point of entry of over 87% of visitors who stayed in Canada for more than one night. Although these leading provinces accounted for most long-term travellers, they did see a small decline in car journeys from the United States, made up for by increases in numbers entering other provinces.

Interpreting the numbers

August 2019's travel statistics show evidence of international travel holding relatively steady. Some fluctuations are visible, including the highest number of August visitors from the United States in over a decade. This increase in American travellers may reflect the fact that this period saw a decline in the value of the Canadian dollar, making travel to Canada a more attractive option for American visitors. The same fluctuation in currency values may also have been responsible for the slight decline in travel to the United States by Canadians during the same period.

Overall, the seasonally adjusted travel figures show overseas travel to Canada holding steady year-on-year. Even when visitors from one part of the world decrease, the diverse makeup of Canada's international visitors means that increases in other regions can make up the difference; the decline in visitors from Europe and Oceania but equivalent increase in travellers from other parts of the world illustrates this point.

Statistics Canada's August 2019 figures show the diversity and complexity of Canadian travel. Visitors come from all over the world, with a wide range of different factors affecting their choices to travel to Canada.