Canadian Tourism Activity Tracker, September 2022
In September, overall tourism activity in Canada was 6.1% below the level reached in September 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both domestic and inbound travel contributed to the overall increase in tourism activity across the country during September, resulting in the highest recovery level since the onset of the pandemic.
Visit the Canadian Tourism Activity Tracker visualization tool to interact with the data.
Airport challenges waning and restrictions ending
Although air travel was approaching its 2019 pre-pandemic level over the summer, employment challenges led to flight cancellations, long security queues and lost luggage at Canada's largest airports. However, these pressures subsided as volumes typically decline in September at the end of the busy summer travel season.
On September 26, 2022, the Government of Canada announced that as of October 1, all COVID-19 border requirements, including vaccination, mandatory use of the ArriveCAN app and any testing and quarantine requirements will end for all travellers entering Canada whether by land, air, or sea.
A preview of international travel can be found in the release "Leading indicator of international arrivals to Canada" for October.
Inbound tourism soars
Since January, overall tourism activity has steadily increased. In September, tourism activity was 6.1% below its pre-pandemic level observed during the same month in 2019.
Inbound activity (i.e., from international visitors) bounced back in September 2022, down 13.0% from its pre-pandemic level compared with 29.5% in August. Domestic activity (i.e., from Canadians travelling within Canada) also increased, but at a slower pace, down 3.1% from its pre-pandemic level compared with 6.9% in August.
Some recovery in tourism activity may partly reflect higher prices. For instance, the transportation component of the Consumer Price Index rose 8.7% year over year in September.
Provincial recovery uneven
Domestic tourism activity is approaching pre-pandemic levels across the country. The Canadian provinces have averaged a recovery of 97% of their pre-pandemic domestic tourism activity from September 2019, up from the 93% recovery observed in August 2022.
The 468,600 overseas visitors arriving in Canada during September 2022 helped bolster inbound tourism activity in some provinces more than others. Changing travel patterns by maiden and returning cruise ships affected the inbound tourism recovery in Atlantic Canada, particularly amplifying the values for Prince Edward Island (see Note to readers).
Some provinces recovered over two-thirds of their inbound tourism activity from the same month in 2019 for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, including Ontario (-30.1%) and Alberta (-32.0%). All provinces have recovered at least half of their inbound tourism activity levels from September 2019.
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 year. 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.
The product "Canadian Tourism Activity Tracker," part of the Data Visualization Products series (71-607-X), is now available.
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