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Canadian Tourism Activity Tracker, August 2022

Released: 2022-11-08

Highlights

In August, overall tourism activity in Canada was 13.7% below the level reached in August 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overall tourism activity increased as inbound activity neared pre-pandemic levels in August, more than offsetting a dip in domestic activity.

Visit the Canadian Tourism Activity Tracker visualization tool to interact with the data.

Travel sector hits new bumps

International travel has steadily increased since May 2021, with the exception of a temporary pause in January 2022 due to the Omicron variant. With many of the COVID-19 restrictions now eased, the pace of recovery in travel is more subject to capacity constraints than to public health considerations.

In August, for example, the country's major airports continued to face challenges with increasing passenger counts and various staff shortages. The situation forced several of the largest passenger airlines to curtail some services during this last month of the busy summer travel season.

A preview of international travel can be found in the "Leading indicator of international arrivals to Canada" for September.

Inbound tourism increases

Since January, overall tourism activity has steadily increased. In August, tourism activity was 13.7% below its pre-pandemic level, gradually approaching the level observed in the same month in 2019.

Inbound activity (i.e., from international visitors) was 29.5% below its pre-pandemic level, comparatively up from 37.2% in July. In contrast, domestic activity (i.e., from Canadians travelling within Canada) fell slightly, down 6.9% compared with 5.7% in July.

Some recovery in tourism activity may partly reflect higher prices. For instance, the all-items Consumer Price Index rose 7.0% year over year in August due to several factors, including traveller accommodation (+33.0%).

Chart 1  Chart 1: Canadian Tourism Activity Tracker, December 2019 to August 2022
Canadian Tourism Activity Tracker, December 2019 to August 2022

Provincial recovery uneven

The recovery of domestic tourism activity was lower in August compared with July for several provinces. On average, provinces had recovered 93% of their domestic tourism activity from August 2019, before the pandemic, down slightly from the 95% posted in July 2022.

The 546,600 overseas visitors arriving in Canada in August 2022 helped bolster inbound tourism activity in some provinces more than in others. In particular, some of these arrivals were from maiden and returning cruise ship visits to the maritime provinces, amplifying certain values (see Note to readers).


  Note to readers

The Canadian Tourism Activity Tracker is part of a shift at Statistics Canada from measuring the economic impacts of the COVID-19 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 and restaurant sales.

When combining these data sources, 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 an experimental product, caution is warranted when interpreting these estimates. As such, tracker estimates should be viewed as preliminary and are subject to revision. More data sources being considered along with new methods may entail the need for further revisions.

Finally, the return of cruise ships visiting Prince Edward Island created a measurement anomaly: a high number of inbound visitors to the island. The number exceeded the pre-pandemic levels used to establish the 2019 base value.

Products

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

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