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Leading indicator of international arrivals to Canada, January 2023

Released: 2023-02-13

Highlights

In January, the number of international arrivals to Canada—non-resident visitors and returning Canadians—more than tripled from January 2022 but has not yet reached levels recorded before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 379,000 non-resident visitors who arrived from abroad at Canadian airports equipped with electronic sensors in January were more than three times those who arrived the same month in 2022.

In January, US residents took 565,700 trips to Canada through land ports with electronic sensors, over 439,300 more than in January 2022.

Meanwhile, the 1.7 million Canadian residents who returned from visiting abroad via kiosk-equipped airports in January nearly tripled those from the same month in 2022.

Compared with January 2022, Canadian residents returned from 1.0 million more trips to the United States—for a total of 1.4 million—through land ports with electronic sensors.

This release provides a first glimpse of international arrivals to Canada in January 2023. Complete counts for the January reference month will be available with the release of "Travel between Canada and other countries" on March 22, 2023.

Travel requirements and advisories

Following a rocky start to the holiday travel season in December 2022, congestion at Canada's borders eased in January because of seasonal declines in volumes.

On January 5, 2023, the Government of Canada implemented the requirement of a negative COVID-19 test for travellers two years of age and older arriving from the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong or Macao.

Additionally, on January 7, the Government of Canada issued a non-essential travel advisory for Mexico following a dramatic rise in criminal activity and an elevated level of violence.

Non-resident arrivals by air

Arrivals of non-resident visitors from overseas countries (202,600) and the United States (176,400) at Canadian airports equipped with primary inspection kiosks (PIKs) totalled 379,000 in January, more than triple the 118,300 arrivals in January 2022.

The number of non-resident arrivals by air in January 2023 included Toronto Pearson International Airport Terminal 1, which make up a sizable portion of total arrivals. The PIK system was implemented at Toronto Pearson International Airport Terminal 1 in June 2021 (see Note to readers).

Chart 1  Chart 1: Non-resident trips to Canada by commercial aircraft, January, 2019 to 2023
Non-resident trips to Canada by commercial aircraft, January, 2019 to 2023

United States resident arrivals by land

In January, US residents took 565,700 trips to visit Canada, crossing by automobile through land ports equipped with the automated Integrated Primary Inspection Line (IPIL) application. This was more than four times the trips taken in January 2022 and represented over three-quarters (77.9%) of such arrivals by automobile during the same month in 2020, before the pandemic.

Chart 2  Chart 2: United States resident trips to Canada by automobile, January, 2019 to 2023
United States resident trips to Canada by automobile, January, 2019 to 2023

Canadian residents returning by air

In January, the number of Canadian residents who returned from abroad by air using airports equipped with PIKs was 1.7 million, almost triple those from January 2022 (648,800).

Note again that the January 2023 count included international arrivals at Toronto Pearson International Airport Terminal 1 (see Note to readers).

Excluding Toronto Pearson International Airport Terminal 1, in January 2023, Canadian airports recovered 91.4% of their 2020 pre-pandemic volume.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Canadian resident return trips from abroad by commercial aircraft, January, 2019 to 2023
Canadian resident return trips from abroad by commercial aircraft, January, 2019 to 2023

Canadian residents returning by land

In January, Canadian residents returned from 1.4 million trips to the United States, crossing by automobile via IPIL-equipped land ports, increasing by more than 1 million trips from January 2022 (370,700).

January 2023 recovered more than four-fifths (83.1%) of the 1.7 million trips recorded for the same month in 2020, up sharply from the 65.4% recovery reached in December of 2022.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Canadian resident return trips from the United States by automobile, January, 2019 to 2023
Canadian resident return trips from the United States by automobile, January, 2019 to 2023

  Note to readers

Counts of visitors entering the country by commercial aircraft are from the primary inspection kiosk (PIK) system. 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. In 2022, PIKs captured approximately 92% of all commercial air travellers.

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 2022, IPIL land ports captured approximately 89% of all automobile entries. However, vehicles crossing the border with NEXUS authorization continue to be excluded.

In January 2022, some IPIL ports switched mode from land to water. In 2019, visitors entering the country at these ports accounted for a small fraction (0.7%) of all visitors entering or returning to Canada by automobile.

In January 2023, the unit of measurement in the charts was updated to "number of trips" to more closely align with Frontier Counts concepts. No changes were made to how the data are collected and disseminated.

Readers are encouraged to review the concepts, definitions, data sources and methods for Frontier Counts, especially when making historical comparisons and examining specific regions.

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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