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National Travel Survey, first quarter 2018

Released: 2018-08-27

Residents of Canada made 65.8 million trips in Canada and abroad in the first quarter, spending $19.1 billion. While 85.6% of these trips took place within Canada, Canadians actually spent the majority of their travel dollars on trips abroad (56.9%).

Travel in Canada

Canadian residents made 56.3 million trips to destinations in Canada in the first three months of 2018, 69.5% of which were same-day trips.

Expenditures on domestic travel totalled $8.2 billion. On average, travelling Canadians spent $146 on their trips inside Canada, substantially lower than average spending on their trips to the United States ($863), and less than one-tenth of what they spent when travelling overseas ($1,680).

Food and beverages in restaurants and bars were the largest single expense item (23.1%), followed by accommodation (21.0%) and vehicle operation expenses (14.5%).

Ontario, Canada's most populous province, recorded 23.3 million visits during the quarter, or about two-fifths of all domestic visits, followed by Quebec (12.2 million visits) and Alberta (6.9 million visits).

Visiting friends and relatives was the most common trip purpose, accounting for 44.5% of all domestic trips during the three-month period.

Travel to the United States

Canadian residents made 6.2 million trips to the United States in the first quarter, spending $5.3 billion. Accommodation was the largest single expense item, accounting for 38.3% of total travel expenditures.

Almost half (48.2%) of all trips to the United States made by Canadian residents during the quarter were for pleasure and leisure.

Ontario residents accounted for about half of all the trips to the United States, followed by residents of British Columbia and Quebec.

Travel overseas

When it comes to overseas travel by Canadians, the first quarter of the year is traditionally the busiest as many residents head south to escape winter. During the first quarter of 2018, Canadian residents made 3.3 million trips to overseas countries (countries other than the United States).

The most commonly visited countries were the sun destinations of Mexico (793,000 visits), Cuba (409,000 visits) and Dominican Republic (274,000 visits).

Pleasure and leisure were the main trip purpose reported by 7 in 10 Canadians making trips overseas during the quarter.

Spending by Canadians in overseas countries totalled $5.5 billion during the quarter. Accommodation (46.3%), and food and beverages in restaurants and bars (22.6%) accounted for the largest share of Canadians' overseas travel expenditures.

  Note to readers

This is the first release of quarterly data for the 2018 National Travel Survey (NTS). The NTS collects information about the domestic and international travel of Canadian residents.

The NTS was developed to fully replace the Travel Survey of Residents of Canada and the Canadian resident component of the International Travel Survey. Please note that NTS data are not comparable with data from these two surveys because the NTS was designed using a different survey methodology.

The target population is the civilian, non-institutionalized population 18 years of age or older in Canada's provinces. Excluded from the survey's coverage are persons living on Indian reserves and persons living in the territories. Also excluded are out-of-scope trips such as routine trips and trips taken by commuters and diplomatic or military personnel.

Domestic trips are made by travellers residing in Canada who have travelled inside Canada for a period of less than 12 months and who are returning to their place of residency.

Same-day trip or visit is considered a same-day trip and has to be 40 km or more (one way) in which the traveller left and returned home on the same day.

Trips abroad are made by travellers residing in Canada who have travelled outside of Canada for a period of less than 12 months and who are returning to Canada. Foreign citizens who are residing in Canada and travel abroad are included as Canadian resident travellers.

A trip abroad for a person residing in Canada starts when a person crosses the border to exit Canada and ends when they first re-enters Canada.

Trips and visits. A trip can consist of one or more visits. A Canadian traveller on a trip abroad may cross into several countries or states before being recorded as having re-entered Canada. Each of these crossings represents a visit. Similarly, a Canadian resident travelling in Canada may stay in several locations during their trip. Each stay at a Canadian location (for example, a province) within a given trip represents a visit.


Data from the National Travel Survey for the first quarter of 2018 are now available. Data tables including statistical profiles of Canadian travellers are available upon request.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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