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International travel deficit highest ever

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Tourism like other major sectors of the economy that involve trade, is measured in surpluses and deficits. For example, when Canadians spend more abroad than foreign visitors spend here, the international travel account posts a deficit and vice versa for a surplus.

The international travel deficit in 2006 reached $6.7 billion—an all-time high. The major cause was Canadians’ record spending in the United States and overseas, $23.3 billion, a 5.7% increase from the previous high in 2005. Meanwhile, foreigners travelling in Canada spent slightly less than in 2005, $16.6 billion.

Still, foreign spending in Canada reached its fourth highest level in 2006. Prior to 2005, foreign spending in Canada had risen every year since 1987—except in 2003, when the SARS outbreak cut travel to Canada.

Canada’s travel deficit with the United States climbed to $4.3 billion in 2006, the highest since 1993. While a nine-year low in overnight travel from the United States cut American spending in Canada, Canadian spending south of the border climbed to a record $12.9 billion.

Travelling overseas is a growing passion among Canadians. This continues to expand Canada’s travel deficit with overseas countries, which has nearly tripled in the last five years, to $2.5 billion in 2006. Over the past 25 years, Canadian spending overseas has actually decreased only once—in 1991. Travellers from overseas spent $7.9 billion or 2.8% more here in 2006.

Canada’s international travel deficit with all countries more than quadrupled from 2002 to 2006.