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Travel between Canada and other countries, February 2019

Released: 2019-04-24

Highlights

The number of Canadians who took plane trips to the United States rose in February, with increases of travellers in Ontario (+5.2%) and Quebec (+3.5%) more than offsetting the declines in Alberta (-1.7%) and British Columbia (-0.6%).

Heavy winter snowstorms that affected southern British Columbia and the northwestern United States corresponded with a decline in cross-border car travel in British Columbia in February, particularly for US travellers to Canada.

Canada saw fewer arrivals from all regions of the world in February when compared with the previous month.

The number of Canadian residents travelling to overseas countries in February was just short of the record high for the month (1.05 million) set in 2017.

Plane travel to the United States increases

Canadian residents made 3.6 million trips to the United States in February, up 1.2% from January. The increase was led by plane travel (+2.9%).

Canadian residents made 843,000 plane trips to the United States in February. Most provinces reported increased plane travel to the United States, notably Ontario (+5.2%) and Quebec (+3.5%), while Alberta (-1.7%) and British Columbia (-0.6%) had the largest declines.

Of all the trips made by Canadians to the United States, the majority (2.7 million) were car travel, which were up 0.9% from January.

Same-day car travel to the United States increased 1.9% to 1.8 million, while overnight car travel declined 1.1% to 900,000. British Columbia (-4.6%), Manitoba (-4.6%) and Alberta (-3.1%) recorded the largest provincial declines in overnight car travel to the United States.

A similar pattern was observed for same-day car travel to the United States, with British Columbia (-2.2%), Alberta (-5.0%), Manitoba (-3.8%) and Saskatchewan (-2.5%) recording declines, while Ontario (+4.4%) and Quebec (+3.6%) recorded the largest provincial increases.

A heavy snowstorm in mid-February that covered southern British Columbia and the northwest United States corresponded to a decline in cross-border car travel at the British Columbia ports of entry. Overnight car travel in both directions across the Canada-United States border in British Columbia recorded larger declines than same-day car travel.

On a year-over-year basis, the number of Canadian residents travelling to the United States by car in February was 8.4% below the level 12 months earlier. This decrease coincides with a decline in the value of the Canadian dollar. The average value of the Canadian dollar was $0.80 US in February 2018 compared with $0.76 US in February 2019.

Winter storms hinder car arrivals from the United States

US residents made 2.0 million trips to Canada in February, down 1.2% from January. The decline was led by a 2.8% decrease in trips by car from January to 1.3 million.

The number of overnight car trips to Canada by US residents declined 4.3% to 667,000 after accounting for normal seasonal variation. Same-day car travel, which accounted for about one-half of all car arrivals to Canada, declined 1.2% in February to 653,000.

Although most provinces received fewer travellers from the United States by car in February, the largest decline took place in British Columbia, which recorded declines in both overnight (-16.2%) and same-day (-12.6%) car arrivals from the United States. It was followed by Alberta, where overnight car trips were down by 8.6% and same-day car travel declined 12.1%.

Snowstorms across the Pacific Northwest reduced arrivals to Canada by car before and during the long weekend associated with the President's Day holiday in the United States on February 18.

In contrast, plane travel by US residents to Canada rose 2.0% in February to 470,000. Increases in plane arrivals to Canada were reported in Alberta (+4.5%), Ontario (+3.8%) and Quebec (+1.8%), while British Columbia reported a decline (-1.9%).

Fewer arrivals from overseas in February

Canada received 600,000 travellers from overseas countries (countries other than the United States) in February, down 2.6% from January.

The number of trips declined from all regions of the world, most notably from Asia (-5.1%), the second largest source of overseas arrivals after Europe. This decline from Asia was led by fewer arrivals from China, down 11.8% in February, following an 11.4% increase in January.

This pattern over the two months is due in part to the timing of additional travel from China that typically precedes the Chinese New Year, which took place on February 5, 2019 compared with February 16 in 2018.

Travel from Europe declined 0.9% from the previous month, mainly due to fewer travellers from France (-3.5%). Despite the monthly decline, there were still 2.9% more arrivals to Canada from France in February than 12 months earlier. The number of arrivals from France in February has increased each year since 2013.

Arrivals from Mexico continued to increase, rising 0.9% in February. Compared with 12 months earlier, travel from Mexico was 26.5% higher.

Canadian travel overseas continues to rise

Canadian residents took 1.03 million trips overseas in February, up 1.5% from January and 4.6% higher compared with February 2018. The number of Canadian residents travelling to overseas countries in February was just short of the record high for the month (1.05 million) set in 2017.


  Note to readers

Monthly data are seasonally adjusted. For information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions. Year-to-date figures are based on unadjusted data.

Seasonally adjusted data from January 2018 to January 2019 have been revised. No revisions were made to non-seasonally adjusted data.

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.

Starting with January 2019 data, Statistics Canada updated the method of determining trip durations for US residents travelling to Canada and Canadian residents returning from the United States. This change affects the relative proportions of same-day/overnight travellers arriving in Canada by air and 'other' modes of transportation (train, marine private, pedestrians, other vehicles). Trip durations for travel by automobile and bus are not affected. Caution is therefore advised when comparing 2019 data with earlier time periods for these modes of transportation. Users analyzing trends in the same-day or overnight portions of these modes are advised to also compare trends for the total as comparison.

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 were completed by international travellers to Canada.

Data users are cautioned that the switch from E311 cards to PIK has affected the historical comparability of some data series. Most notably, there has been an increased tendency of Canadian travellers returning from overseas trips via the United States to report in PIK that they are returning from the United States and not from overseas via the United States. In the Frontier Counts, this has led to increases in the numbers of Canadian residents returning from the United States by air, and decreases in the numbers of Canadian residents returning from countries other than the United States by air via the United States (as well as more aggregated series to which these data contribute). Data for other series that include international travellers to Canada by air do not appear to be affected by the switch from E311 to PIK and hence comparisons with data for other reference months can be made.

Further information on the switch from E311 cards to PIK is available in the document "Impacts of PIK on Tourism Data."

During 2018, Statistics Canada undertook a review of sources of data on overseas residents entering Canada at land ports. Overseas residents who enter Canada at land ports represent about 10% of total overseas travellers to Canada. Total counts of overseas travellers were revised to reflect new sources of data at some ports. In addition, starting with August 2018 data, Statistics Canada implemented a new method for estimating the country of residence breakdowns of these overseas travellers entering Canada at most land ports. These changes have varying degrees of impact on the total counts of travellers to Canada from individual countries. Users are therefore advised to use caution when comparing changes in travel to Canada with previous months for individual overseas countries.

Overseas countries refer to countries other than the United States.

A Canadian resident traveller is a Canadian resident who has travelled outside Canada for a period of less than 12 months.

A non-resident traveller is a resident of a country other than Canada who is travelling to Canada for a period of less than 12 months.

An overnight traveller or a tourist is a traveller whose trip includes one or more night's stay.

Products

The January 2019 issue of International Travel, Advance Information, Vol. 35, no. 2 (Catalogue number66-001-P), is now available.

For more information regarding the impacts on Statistics Canada travel and tourism data resulting from the replacement of E311 cards with the Primary Inspection Kiosk (PIK), please consult the document "Impacts of PIK on Tourism Data."

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; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).

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