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Visitor Travel Survey, second quarter 2018

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Released: 2018-11-27

Travellers from abroad made 8.2 million trips to Canada in the second quarter, down 1.8% from the second quarter of 2017. The second quarter of 2017 featured festivities marking both Canada's 150th birthday and the 375th anniversary of Montréal. Despite the decline in the number of travellers from abroad, tourism spending in Canada rose 1.0% to $5.8 billion in the second quarter compared with the same quarter of 2017.

US travel spending in Canada increases

US residents made 6.4 million trips to Canada in the second quarter, down 1.8% from the second quarter of 2017. Despite this year-over-year decline, travel spending by US residents rose 3.3% to $2.9 billion. The average value of the US dollar, one factor known to influence cross-border travel, declined from about $1.34 CDN in the second quarter of 2017 to $1.29 CDN in the second quarter of 2018. A declining US dollar raises prices in Canada for visiting US residents.

Spending by US travellers in Canada averaged $440 per trip, with accommodation being the largest single expense item (39.5%), followed by food and beverage (26.5%). Other significant expense items included transportation (14.3%) and recreation and entertainment (10.6%).

Trips for holidays, leisure or recreation were the most common (2.9 million trips), accounting for about 45.6% of all trips from the United States. Those who travelled to Canada to visit friends and families (1.3 million trips) were the next largest group.

Ontario and British Columbia were the provinces most-visited by US residents, accounting for almost three-quarters of all visits from the United States.

Slowdown in arrivals from overseas

In the second quarter, travellers from overseas countries (countries other than the United States) made 1.8 million trips to Canada, a year-over-year decline of 1.7%. Travel expenditures in Canada also declined during the quarter, down 1.1% to $2.9 billion.

Average travel spending in Canada by overseas residents totalled $1,640 per trip, with the largest share spent on accommodation (34.9%), followed by expenditures on food and beverage in restaurants and bars (24.5%). Other significant expense items were clothes and gifts (16.9%) and transportation services in Canada (11.6%).

In the second quarter of 2018, the Canada–China Year of Tourism, residents of Asia and Oceania were the most frequent overseas visitors (763,000 trips), followed by travellers from Europe (730,000 trips). Visitors from these two regions represented 84.2% of all overseas travellers to Canada. Asia and Oceania surpassed Europe as a source of travellers to Canada for the first time during the first quarter of 2017.

Just over half of all visitors from Europe (51.3%) visited Ontario or Quebec in the second quarter, while British Columbia remained the province most-visited by visitors from Asia and Oceania. Almost 35.0% of all visitors from that region visited British Columbia from April to June 2018.

Visiting friends and family was the most common travel purpose for overseas travellers to Canada in the second quarter, at 669,000 trips, followed by pleasure and leisure holidays (642,000 trips).

Travellers from Europe visited Canada primarily for holidays, leisure or recreation (293,000 trips), while those from Asia and Oceania visited Canada to reunite with their friends and families (329,000 trips).

  Note to readers

This is the second release of quarterly data for the 2018 Visitor Travel Survey (VTS). The VTS collects information about international travel to Canada by US and overseas residents.

The VTS was developed to fully replace the inbound visitor component of the International Travel Survey (ITS) and consists of two components, the electronic questionnaires and the Air Exit Survey. Data from the VTS are historically comparable with data from the previous ITS. However, users are advised to exercise caution when comparing with 2017 data that include international travellers to Canada by air from March to December, as these 2017 data will be revised. Further explanation is provided below.

Statistics Canada's Frontier Counts are used as benchmarks for the VTS on the numbers of travellers to Canada. Data for Statistics Canada's Frontier Counts program are produced using administrative data received from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) on all international travellers who have been cleared for entry or re-entry into Canada. This includes residents of Canada, the United States, and overseas entering Canada from abroad.

In 2017, the CBSA began introducing the electronic Primary Inspection Kiosk (PIK) system at airports in Canada. The PIK system replaces the E311 Declaration Cards that are completed by international travellers to Canada. Initially, while awaiting receipt of PIK data, Statistics Canada prepared preliminary estimates for airports at which the PIK system was deployed.

Frontier Counts and VTS data since January 2018 incorporates PIK data from the airports where the system has been implemented. The preliminary estimates of 2017 traveller counts for PIK airports will be revised at a later date.

Until these preliminary estimates for March to December 2017 are revised, users are advised to exercise caution when comparing with data for these months that include international travellers to Canada by air.

The numbers of travellers to Canada by car and other modes of transportation are not affected by revisions in PIK data. Further information is available in the document Impacts of PIK on Tourism Data.

Overseas countries refer to countries other than the United States.

A trip to Canada is made by a resident of a country other than Canada who is cleared through a Canada Border Services Agency point of entry on a visit for a period of less than 12 months. A Canadian citizen residing outside Canada for more than 12 months who comes to Canada is included as a traveller from a country other than Canada.

A trip to Canada for a person residing in a country other than Canada starts when they are cleared through a Canada Border Services Agency point of entry to enter Canada and ends when they exit Canada.

Trips and visits. A trip can consist of one or more visits. A traveller from a country other than Canada may stay in several locations during a trip to Canada. Each stay at a Canadian location (for example, a province) within a given trip represents a visit.


Data from the Visitor Travel Survey (VTS) for the second quarter of 2018 are now available. Other tables, including statistical profiles of international travellers visiting Canada, 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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