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Leading indicator of international arrivals to Canada, August 2022

Released: 2022-09-12

Highlights

In August, the number of international arrivals to Canada rose sharply from August 2021, continuing the recovery, but not yet reaching levels recorded before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Compared with August 2021, there were over five times (835,800) as many non-resident visitors arriving from abroad at Canadian airports equipped with electronic kiosks.

US residents took 1.1 million trips to Canada through land ports with electronic sensors in August. This is the second consecutive month the number exceeded one million.

At the same time, the 1.3 million Canadian residents returning by air from visiting abroad via kiosk-equipped airports was almost three times greater than in August 2021.

Compared with August 2021, nearly 1.7 million more Canadian residents—for a total of nearly 2.0 million—returned from trips to the United States through land ports with electronic sensors.

This release provides a first glimpse of international arrivals to Canada in August 2022. Complete counts for August will be available with the release of "Travel between Canada and other countries" on October 24, 2022.

Surge in arrivals pressures airport capacity

International travel has steadily increased over the last year, with the exception of a temporary pause in January 2022 due to the Omicron variant and renewed COVID-19 restrictions. Indeed, the recovery in international travel is now subject to capacity constraints rather than public health restrictions.

Although air travel has started to approach its pre-pandemic level, employment in the industry has continued to lag, leading to flight cancellations, long security queues, and lost luggage, impacting the largest airports the most. The current labour shortage is being felt across different airport-related occupations, including pilots, flight attendants, security screeners, and baggage handlers.

Non-resident arrivals by air

Arrivals of non-resident visitors from overseas countries (414,500) and the United States (421,300) at Canadian airports equipped with primary inspection kiosks (PIKs) totalled 835,800 in August, up sharply from the 158,300 arrivals observed in August 2021.

With this sharp year-over-year increase, the number of non-resident arrivals by air is now approaching that observed during the same month in 2019, before the pandemic. However, the total for August 2022 includes a sizable portion of 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, August, 2019 to 2022
Non-resident visitors arriving in Canada by commercial aircraft, August, 2019 to 2022

US-resident arrivals by land

In August, US residents took over 1.1 million trips to visit Canada crossing by automobile through land ports equipped with the automated Integrated Primary Inspection Line (IPIL) application. This was almost three times more trips than were taken in August 2021, and half (50.2%) of the 2.2 million US-resident arrivals by automobile during the same month in 2019.

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

Canadians returning by air

In August, the number of Canadian residents returning by air from abroad and landing at airports equipped with PIKs was 1.3 million, up by more than 850,000 from August 2021 (461,800).

While the total arrivals appear to exceed the pre-pandemic levels observed in August 2019, note again that the August 2022 count includes 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, August, 2019 to 2022
Canadian residents returning from visiting abroad by commercial aircraft, August, 2019 to 2022

Canadians returning by land

In August, 2.0 million Canadian residents returned from visiting the United States, crossing by automobile via IPIL-equipped land ports. Although this is a jump of nearly 1.7 million trips from August 2021 (300,300), this number is roughly three-fifths of the 3.3 million trips recorded for the same month in 2019, before the pandemic.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Canadian residents returning from visiting the United States by automobile, August, 2019 to 2022
Canadian residents returning from visiting the United States by automobile, August, 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, and, as of July 2021, 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 through land ports equipped with the automated Integrated Primary Inspection Line (IPIL) system represent a subset of US visitors and Canadian returning visitors 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.

In April 2022, the following IPIL ports switched mode from land to water: Yarmouth, Walpole Island, Point Alexandria (Wolfe Island), Pelee Island, Prince Rupert, Sidney, and Victoria—other locations. Therefore, counts of visitors entering the country by land for August 2022 exclude those crossing at these ports. In pre-pandemic August 2019, visitors at these ports accounted for a fraction (1.0%) of all visitors entering or returning to Canada by automobile.

Elements of Statistics Canada's Frontier Counts program were modified in January 2022. 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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