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Canadian Tourism Activity Tracker, April 2021

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Released: 2021-07-02


In April, overall tourism activity in Canada was 66.3% below the level reached in April 2019, before the pandemic. With border closures and other restrictions to combat COVID-19, inbound or internationally generated tourism activity was even further below (-92.2%) its pre-pandemic level.

Those provinces with lower reliance on inbound tourism activity, such as Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan, fared somewhat better than other jurisdictions in April, with tourism activity down by 50.5% and 51.6%, respectively, from the same month in 2019.

Visit the Canadian Tourism Activity Tracker tool to interact with recent and historic data.

Some restrictions tightened

In several provinces, including Ontario and Quebec, business closures along with restrictions on the size of gatherings were in effect to combat a third wave of the virus. Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada–US border remained in effect throughout April and together with additional requirements for international air travellers—testing upon arrival with a hotel stopover—served to further dissuade international travel.

Recovery pauses with third wave

At the close of 2020, overall tourism activity was down by 63.5% in December, compared with the same month in 2019. In 2021, tourism activity began to drop further as provincial restrictions and closures were enacted to combat regional outbreaks and new variants.

By April 2021, overall tourism activity in Canada was 66.3% below the pre-pandemic level reached in April 2019. Domestic activity (i.e., from the contribution of Canadians) was down 52.7%, while inbound activity (i.e., from the contribution of international visitors) was down 92.2%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Canadian Tourism Activity Tracker, December 2019 to April 2021
Canadian Tourism Activity Tracker, December 2019 to April 2021

Provincial differences emerge

At the provincial level, tourism activity in Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia in April was down about two-thirds from the pre-pandemic levels of April 2019. Historically, the greater Toronto and Vancouver tourism regions typically attract more international visitors.

In comparison, those provinces with relatively lower reliance on international tourism, such as Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan, fared somewhat better in April, with tourism activity down by 50.5% and 51.6% respectively from the same month in 2019.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Change in provincial tourism activity, April 2019 to April 2021
Change in provincial tourism activity, April 2019 to April 2021

  Note to readers

The Canadian Tourism Activity Tracker is part of a shift at Statistics Canada from measuring the economic impacts of the pandemic to assessing the recovery. The tracker combines data from multiple sources, including counts of international travellers, domestic and international commercial aircraft and surface movements, as well as hotel occupancy rates, restaurant sales and reservation bookings.

When these data sources are combined, each series is first normalized using a ratio method that removes seasonality and allows comparison with the same month from the 2019 base. Then weights are used to combine these normalized values into a single estimate for a given month and geography. The weights are determined based on the data series correlation with overall tourism—the higher the correlation, the larger the weight.

The domestic tourism value is calculated using domestic-related data, while the inbound value uses international-related sources. The two values are combined proportionately based on pre-pandemic National Travel Survey and Visitor Travel Survey data, with the level set to zero for each month in the 2019 base year. For a given month in subsequent years, a tracker value above zero indicates that tourism activity is greater than the 2019 base, while a value below zero indicates the opposite.

As this is an experimental product, caution is warranted when interpreting these estimates. For example, initial estimates for some of the series are input into the tracker before data are officially released. As a result, tracker estimates should be viewed as preliminary and are subject to revision when final estimates become available. With more data sources being considered along with new methods, this may entail the need for further revisions.

For more information on the methods, please see Definitions, data sources and methods.


The product "Canadian Tourism Activity Tracker," part of the Data Visualization Products series (Catalogue number71-607-X), 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; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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