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Characteristics of international travellers

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The Daily

Thursday, February 28, 2008
Third quarter 2007 (preliminary)

Canadian travellers surged into the United States last summer, spending nearly $2.8 billion in the process, the highest amount on record for a third quarter. At the same time, Canadians set another third-quarter record for overseas trips to countries other than the United States.

Canadians took an estimated 5.8 million overnight trips to the United States between July and September 2007, up 12.0% from the same period in 2006. Their third-quarter spending south of the border was a 22.0% increase from the same three months in 2006.

Although the Canadian dollar reached parity with its US counterpart on September 20, 2007, the average value of the dollar was US $0.96 in the third quarter of 2007. This was 7.2% higher than the average of US $0.89 in the same period in 2006.

On the other hand, travel to Canada from the United States tumbled 3.1%, the 10th consecutive quarterly decline.

Elsewhere, Canadian residents took a record 1.7 million trips overseas, a  7.8% increase from the third quarter of 2006, keeping up the record-setting trend of the past few years. In addition, the number of trips to Canada by overseas residents rose 2.4%, rebounding from a third-quarter decline in the previous year.

Travel to the United States mostly to New York, Washington and Michigan

The three border states of New York, Washington and Michigan were the top three states visited by Canadians. Together, these three states hosted nearly 2.5 million Canadian overnight visitors between July and September 2007.

Canadians made 1.2 million overnight visits to New York, the most popular state, spending an estimated $336 million. Washington, in second place, hosted nearly 800,000 overnight visitors.

However, in terms of spending, Florida was in second place, as Canadians spent nearly $280 million in the Sunshine State on overnight visits.

Travel to the United States rose in every trip purpose category. Canadians took 3.6 million pleasure trips to the United States in the third quarter of 2007, up 13.4% from the previous year. Business travel increased by 7.2%, while the number of trips to visit friends and relatives increased 7.9%.

There were noticeable increases in both travel by car, which jumped 12.9%, and by air (+7.9%). However, car travel remained the most popular mode, as Canadians made over 4.0 million overnight auto trips to the United States.

About 7 of every 10 overnight trips Canadians made to the United States were by automobile.

Top US states visited by Canadian residents
  Third quarter 2006r Third quarter 2007p Third quarter 2006 to third quarter 2007 Third quarter 2006r Third quarter 2007p Third quarter 2006 to third quarter 2007
  Overnight visits Expenditures
  thousands % change $ millions % change
New York 1,032 1,174 13.8 254 336 32.2
Washington 701 786 12.2 127 161 27.1
Michigan 454 503 10.9 97 118 21.7
Maine 424 492 16.1 118 142 19.9
Vermont 282 353 25.0 43 53 23.0
Florida 233 331 42.3 170 278 63.4
Montana 244 302 23.7 58 88 52.2
Massachusetts 246 275 11.7 107 125 16.7
California 250 268 7.1 192 231 20.6
New Hampshire 210 260 23.8 54 71 30.8

Decline in both trips and spending by Americans in Canada

United States residents took 5.6 million overnight trips to Canada between July and September 2007, down 3.1% from the same three months of 2006. These visitors spent $3.1 billion, a 3.3% decline.

Overnight travel declined by both automobile and airplane. Americans made 3.6% fewer car trips, while the number of plane trips fell 1.8%. Car travel continued to account for the majority (61.3%) of overnight travel from the United States.

Pleasure travel, the largest purpose category for overnight travel by United States residents, fell 3.0%. Overnight travel for business dropped 3.3%, while there was a 1.1% decline in overnight travel to visit friends and relatives.

Four of the top five states of origin recorded declines in overnight travel to Canada compared with the third quarter of 2006.

The only state in the top five to post an increase was New York. Residents of New York made just over 700,000 overnight trips to Canada, up 1.4%. Travel from Michigan fell 6.0%, while travel from Washington State was down 2.6%.

The largest decline in overnight travel among the top 10 states of origin was from California (-17.4%). The biggest gain was in travel from Florida (+16.9%).

Top states of origin for United States residents travelling to Canada
  Third quarter 2006r Third quarter 2007p Third quarter 2006 to third quarter 2007 Third quarter 2006r Third quarter 2007p Third quarter 2006 to third quarter 2007
  Overnight visits Expenditures
  thousands % change $ millions % change
New York 709 718 1.4 296 304 2.8
Michigan 547 514 -6.0 213 207 -2.9
Washington 483 470 -2.6 176 176 -0.1
California 458 378 -17.4 375 287 -23.5
Ohio 300 292 -2.8 143 129 -10.4
Massachusetts 236 265 12.6 101 115 14.3
Pennsylvania 227 251 10.7 129 149 15.4
Illinois 202 225 11.5 126 152 20.4
New Jersey 185 186 0.9 110 114 3.3
Florida 158 185 16.9 129 140 8.8

Overseas trips: Europe still the most popular continent

Canadians set another third-quarter record for travel to overseas countries between July and September 2007.

Europe continued to be the most popular continent, accounting for 8 of the top 10 overseas countries visited by Canadians. Topping the list still were the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy.

Overall, Canadian travellers spent an estimated $2.9 billion on overseas trips in the third quarter, up 10.2% from the same period in 2006.

The Canadian dollar was lower against the euro and the British pound in the third quarter of 2007 than in the same period in 2006, but higher against the Japanese yen.

More visitors from overseas

Travel to Canada from overseas countries rose in the third quarter of 2007. Overseas residents took about 1.8 million overnight trips to Canada, up 2.4% from the same period in 2006.

The United Kingdom continued to lead the list of Canada's top overseas markets, with residents from this country taking about 358,000 overnight trips to Canada in the third quarter of 2007, up 7.5%.

Of the top 10 overseas markets, 6 recorded increases in overnight travel to Canada, with Australia recording the largest increase (+13.4%). In contrast, Japan posted the largest decline (-15.6%). The number of visitors to Canada from Japan has been on a downward trend since 2004.

Overseas tourists spent an estimated $2.4 billion in Canada between July and September, down 0.4% from the same period in 2006.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3152.

This release summarizes data now available from the International Travel Survey. Tables, various statistical profiles and micro-data files of characteristics of international trips and travellers using revised second quarter 2007 data as well as the preliminary third quarter 2007 data are now available on request.

Data on characteristics of international trips and travellers for the fourth quarter and full year 2007 will be released on May 28.

To obtain one or more of these products, or to get a more detailed description of the new initiatives, contact Client Services (toll-free 1-800-307-3382; 613-951-9169; fax: 613-951-2909; To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Frances Kremarik (613-951-4240; fax: 613-951-2909;, Culture, Tourism and the Centre for Education Statistics.

Tables. Table(s).