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Travel between Canada and other countries, May 2020

Released: 2020-07-22

Highlights

International travel remained low throughout May, the second full month that travel restrictions were in effect to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Arrivals from overseas countries (those other than the United States) to Canada dropped by 97.9% compared with May 2019, while arrivals from the United States were down 96.6%.

Similarly, the number of Canadians returning from trips to the United States declined 95.5% year over year and those returning from overseas countries were down 97.3%.

Most countries restrict non-essential travel

Many countries around the world continued restricting non-essential travel in May to contain the spread of COVID-19.

International arrivals to Canada, first restricted on March 18, 2020, have since been extended four times by an additional month. International travel remained low throughout May as a result of these travel restrictions.

As for travel across the Canada-US border, the first 30-day restriction on non-essential travel took effect on March 21 and has also been renewed four times until August 21, 2020.

As a result, Canada-US border crossings, which started a steep decline in the second half of March 2020, were down 95.9% in May compared with May 2019. However, the number of cross-border trips rose from 202,800 in April to 241,400 in May 2020, a 19.3% increase.

Overseas travel to Canada remains low

Arrivals to Canada from overseas countries dropped 97.9% year over year to 14,300 in May.

The number of travellers from Europe fell from 271,000 to 2,800, while travel from Asia dropped from 244,000 arrivals to 3,900. Arrivals from China, the leading source market for travel from Asia, were down from 62,100 to 1,100.

Arrivals from the United Kingdom declined 99.5% year over year to 430 in May, while travel from France declined 99.2% to 390.

Travel from other major markets also remained low throughout May. For example, 89 travellers from Australia arrived in Canada in May.

Air travel from the United States reaches record low

US residents took a total of 72,100 trips to Canada in May, down 96.6% from May 2019. However, this represented an increase from April when 51,000 US residents were recorded entering Canada.

Air arrivals to Canada from the United States declined 99.2%, from 470,300 trips in May 2019 to 3,700 in May 2020. This was the lowest number of trips to Canada from the United States by plane for any month since modern record keeping began in 1972.

Arrivals by automobile, representing 92.5% of all crossings from the United States, were down 95.2% to 66,700 trips. Four of every five of these automobile trips were same-day crossings (79.6%).

While automobile crossings by US residents declined in every province, Quebec (down 93.7% to 4,000) and British Columbia (down 93.0% to 17,400) reported the largest percentage declines.

Travel by Canadians to the United States shrivels

Canadian residents returned from 169,300 trips to the United States in May, down 95.5% from 3.7 million in May 2019.

The number of trips by automobile, which accounted for 92.6% of total Canadian travel to the United States, saw a year-over-year decline, from 2.8 million trips to 156,900.

While overnight car travel across the border decreased 97.5% to 21,400 trips, same-day car travel declined 92.9% to 135,500 trips. Of the few Canadians crossing the border by car, a higher proportion are now for same-day trips.

British Columbia reported the largest year-over-year percentage decline (-98.3%), followed by Quebec (-95.9%) and Manitoba (-95.2%).

Meanwhile, air travel has fallen even more than car travel. The number of Canadian residents returning from trips to the United States by plane shrank 98.8% year over year to 9,600 trips in May.

Overseas travel by Canadian residents remains low

Canadian residents returned from 26,300 trips overseas in May, down 97.3% from 971,300 trips taken the same month a year earlier.


  Note to readers

Data for Statistics Canada's Frontier Counts program are produced using administrative data received from the Canada Border Services Agency 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 countries entering Canada from abroad.

Unlike data releases prior to April 2020, this month's analysis is based on unadjusted data (not seasonally adjusted) to emphasize the change in actual volumes. However, data are available on a seasonally adjusted basis from the tables. Because of the unusually small travel volumes since April 2020, future revisions to seasonally adjusted data for months of 2020 can be expected to be larger than usual. This may have a significant impact on the month-to-month movements of individual series.

Seasonally adjusted data for February 2020 to April 2020 have been revised.

For information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

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 nights' stay.

Products

The May 2020 issue of International Travel, Advance Information, Vol. 36, no. 5 (Catalogue number66-001-P), is now available.

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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