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Leading indicator of international arrivals to Canada, March 2022

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Released: 2022-04-11

Highlights

In March, the number of international arrivals to Canada rose from the same month in 2021, but remained well below pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels in March 2019.

The 262,400 non-resident visitors arriving from abroad at Canadian airports equipped with electronic kiosks were almost 20 times as many compared with March 2021.

US residents took 266,600 trips to Canada through land ports with electronic sensors in March 2022, over 202,000 more than in March 2021.

At the same time, the number of Canadian residents returning from visiting abroad via the same kiosk-equipped airports was over 30 times greater than in March 2021.

Similarly, compared with March 2021, there were over 475,000 more Canadian residents—for a total of 687,400—who returned from trips to the United States through the same land ports.

This release provides a first glimpse of international arrivals to Canada in March 2022. Complete counts will be available in March's "Travel between Canada and other countries," which will be released on May 24, 2022.

Border restrictions ease

In late 2021, in response to the Omicron variant, the Government of Canada advised Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside Canada and, effective December 21, 2021, all travellers entering Canada had to provide a negative COVID-19 molecular test for entry. In mid-February 2022, the Government then announced a phased easing of travel requirements.

As of February 28, travellers entering Canada were given the option of a providing a negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test, taken the day prior to their scheduled flight or arrival at the land border, with only random on-arrival testing conducted at airports. At the same time, restrictions as to where international passenger flights could arrive in Canada lifted, and such flights were, once again, permitted to land at all international Canadian airports.

Note that the onset of the pandemic travel restrictions were first felt mid-month in March 2020 and, as such, pre-pandemic comparisons are made with March 2019.

Non-resident arrivals by air

Arrivals of non-resident visitors—from overseas countries (134,200) and the United States (128,200)—at Canadian airports equipped with Primary Inspection Kiosks (PIKs) totalled 262,400 in March 2022, almost 20 times the number of arrivals (13,400) observed in March 2021. Despite this sharp increase, it is just under two-thirds (64.5%) of the 407,200 non-residents arriving by air in March in 2019, before the pandemic.

The March 2022 counts include international arrivals at Toronto/Pearson International Airport Terminal 1, where the PIK system was implemented in June 2021 (see Note to readers).

Chart 1  Chart 1: Non-resident visitors arriving in Canada by commercial aircraft, March, 2019 to 2022
Non-resident visitors arriving in Canada by commercial aircraft, March, 2019 to 2022

Non-resident arrivals by land

In March, US residents took 266,600 trips by automobile to Canada crossing at land ports equipped with the automated Integrated Primary Inspection Line (IPIL) application. While this was over 202,000 more than the number of trips taken in March 2021, it was about one-third (30.4%) of the 876,300 land arrivals by automobile during the same month in 2019.

Chart 2  Chart 2: US-resident visitors arriving in Canada by automobile, March, 2019 to 2022
US-resident visitors arriving in Canada by automobile, March, 2019 to 2022

Canadians returning by air

In March, the number of Canadian residents flying back from visiting abroad through airports equipped with PIKs was 1.1 million, up by more than 1 million from March 2021 (33,000). This was over three-quarters (76.8%) of the number of returning Canadians by air observed during March 2019.

Again, the March 2022 count includes of international arrivals at Toronto/Pearson International Airport Terminal 1 (see Note to readers).

Chart 3  Chart 3: Canadian residents returning from visiting abroad by commercial aircraft, March, 2019 to 2022
Canadian residents returning from visiting abroad by commercial aircraft, March, 2019 to 2022

Canadians returning by land

In March, 687,400 Canadian residents returned by automobile from trips to the United States, crossing at land IPIL-equipped ports. Despite there being almost half a million (475,000) more return trips than counted in March 2021, it is less than one-third (29.7%) of the 2.3 million trips recorded for the same month in 2019.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Canadian residents returning from visiting abroad by automobile, March, 2019 to 2022
Canadian residents returning from visiting abroad by automobile, March, 2019 to 2022

  Note to readers

Counts of visitors entering the country by commercial aircraft are from the Primary Inspection Kiosk (PIK) system. In 2020, the subset of arrivals by air represented approximately 58% of all international arrivals. PIKs were deployed at Toronto/Pearson International Airport Terminal 1 on June, 22, 2021. As of July, these arrivals are included in the total counts, which has consequently improved coverage. The coverage statement will be amended when a complete year of international traffic is observed for all Canadian airports.

Counts of visitors entering the country by automobile at land ports equipped with the automated Integrated Primary Inspection Line (IPIL) system represent a subset of US visitors and Canadians returning by automobile. In January 2021, the IPIL land ports captured approximately 82% of all automobile entries. However, vehicles crossing the border with NEXUS authorization continue to be excluded.

Elements of Statistics Canada's Frontier Counts program have recently been modified. For example, counts of US residents and returning Canadians crossing the border are no longer restricted to US- and Canadian-plated automobiles, respectively. In addition, coverage has increased from a subset of 111 IPIL ports to all land ports equipped with the IPIL system. Although these changes will not have a significant impact on total estimates, readers are encouraged to review the concepts, definitions, data sources and methods for Frontier Counts, especially when making historical comparisons and examining specific regions.

Traveller: A person making an entry into Canada for any purpose and any duration.

Visitor: A traveller whose trip purpose is related to tourism, namely personal, business, study, to be a crew member in a private vehicle (private aircraft or private boat) or whose purpose is not known, and whose trip duration is less than one year.

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; infostats@statcan.gc.ca) or Media Relations (statcan.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.statcan@statcan.gc.ca).

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