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Travel spending by visitors to Canada: Final indicators, 2018

Released: 2019-11-08

Travellers spent $22.0 billion while visiting Canada in 2018. US residents spent the most money in Canada during the year, while spending by visitors from China was comparable to the amount spent by visitors from the United Kingdom and France combined.

Visitors from the United States and China the largest spenders in Canada in 2018 

Foreign travellers spent $22.0 billion in Canada in 2018, over half ($11.3 billion) of which was spent by travellers from overseas countries (countries other than the United States).

Visitors from China ($2.0 billion), the United Kingdom ($1.2 billion), France ($933.1 million), Australia ($822.5 million) and Germany ($747.6 million) accounted for the highest amounts of travel spending in Canada from overseas countries. In comparison, US residents spent $10.6 billion while travelling in Canada.

Among major source market countries, visitors from China and Australia spent the most on average per trip in Canada in 2018. Visitors from China spent $2,600 per trip, while visitors from Australia spent $2,300. A record 757,000 travellers from China visited Canada in 2018, the Canada-China Year of Tourism, an initiative intended to create closer ties between the two nations through tourism.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Average travel spending in Canada by country of residence of travellers, 2018
Average travel spending in Canada by country of residence of travellers, 2018 

Accommodation (36.8%) and food and beverages (26.0%) accounted for almost two-thirds of all travel spending in Canada by foreign residents. Transportation within Canada (13.3%) (excluding the cost of travel to Canada from abroad), clothes and gifts (11.8%), and recreation and entertainment (9.5%) were other significant expense categories.

The spending patterns of foreign travellers varied according to their country of origin and the tourism regions visited in Canada. For example, travellers from overseas countries allotted one-third of their tourism expenditures in Canada to accommodation (33.8%). However, this figure varied from 24.0% for those who visited New Brunswick to 45.6% among those who visited the Kootenay Rockies region. Looking at country of origin, travellers from China spent 22.6% of their overall tourism expenditures on accommodation, compared with 44.8% among visitors from the United Kingdom.

At the provincial level, Ontario ($7.3 billion) was the highest-earning province in terms of total spending by foreign travellers in 2018, followed by British Columbia ($6.6 billion) and Quebec ($3.6 billion).

Chart 2  Chart 2: Total foreign travel expenditures in Canada by province/region visited, 2018
Total foreign travel expenditures in Canada by province/region visited, 2018

Vancouver, Coast and Mountains: Canada's highest-earning tourism region in 2018

The Vancouver, Coast and Mountains region was Canada's top-earning tourism region in 2018, accounting for $4.7 billion in foreign travel spending or just over one-fifth (21.6%) of the national total. It also exceeded the amount reported in every other province except Ontario.

Travellers from overseas countries accounted for more than half ($2.8 billion or 58.9%) of all travel earnings from foreign travel in the region, followed by US visitors ($2.0 billion). Among overseas visitors, travellers from China ($753.6 million) spent the most in the Vancouver, Coast and Mountains region, almost triple the amount spent by visitors from either the United Kingdom ($289.3 million) or Australia ($265.1 million).

Foreign travel spending totalled $3.3 billion in the Greater Toronto area—the highest-earning region in Ontario (31.6% of the provincial total) and the second-highest nationally (15.2% of the national total). Travellers from overseas countries spent $1.9 billion in the region, while US visitors spent $1.4 billion. Visitors from China ($381.1 million), the United Kingdom ($176.7 million) and Mexico ($103.5 million) were the highest-spending visitors from overseas.

In the tourism region comprising Ontario outside of Toronto, Niagara Falls, Ottawa and their surrounding areas, travel spending totalled $2.3 billion in 2018, making it the third most lucrative region in the country in terms of travel spending. US visitors accounted for two-thirds ($1.5 billion) of all travel spending by foreign travellers in the region.

Montréal, at $2.2 billion, was the highest-earning region in Quebec (59.9% of the provincial total) and the fourth-highest in the country. Overseas visitors generated just over half (50.4%) of total foreign travel spending in this region, with the largest contributions coming from travellers from France ($247.5 million) and China ($120.7 million). By comparison, US residents spent $1.1 billion in the region.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Travel expenditures, by highest earning tourism regions and by region of residence of travellers, 2018
Travel expenditures, by highest earning tourism regions and by region of residence of travellers, 2018

The Prairie provinces received $2.7 billion (12.5% of the national total), more than half (57.5%, or $1.6 billion) of which was spent by residents of overseas countries. Among travellers from overseas, visitors from the United Kingdom ($248.8 million) and China ($223.3 million) spent the most. In comparison, US residents spent $1.2 billion in the Prairies. Foreign travel spending amounted to $1.0 billion in the Canadian Rockies, making it the most lucrative region in the Prairies.

Atlantic Canada received $1.3 billion in foreign travel spending, representing 5.8% of the national total. Nova Scotia was the highest-earning region ($546.0 million) in Atlantic Canada, followed by New Brunswick ($301.4 million). Travel spending by US residents amounted to 58.3% of total foreign travel spending in the region.

Foreign travellers spent $395.8 million in the territories (1.8% of the national total) in 2018. US visitors accounted for more than half ($220.5 million) of the total foreign spending in the region, while visitors from Germany ($21.6 million) and the United Kingdom ($21.0 million) accounted for the largest shares of spending by overseas travellers.



  Note to readers

This is the first release of the annual data of tourism spending by international visitors to Canada at the sub-provincial level.

These estimates are produced using Small Area Estimation (SAE) modelling to combine data collected from the Visitor Travel Survey (VTS) with aggregated payment processor data acquired by Destination Canada and provided to Statistics Canada.

The payment processors' data include information on spending category, tourism region, and country of origin of the credit cards used by international visitors to Canada. The data contain no information identifying an individual or a specific transaction. Methodological information is available in the document Small Area Estimation for Visitor Travel Survey.

The sum of spending data derived from the SAE model will not equal that produced by the VTS alone. When analyzing spending data, it is recommended to use the estimates derived from the SAE model.

Final annual data for the 2018 VTS released on October 9, 2019, have been revised. Data tables, including statistical profiles of international travellers visiting Canada, are available upon request.

Products

Annual data of tourism spending by international visitors to Canada for 2018 are now available. Data tables 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; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).

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