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Overview of trends 2010

Recovery of worldwide tourism: Emerging economies play a key role in the rebound

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), worldwide tourism returned to growth in 2010 and recovered more strongly than expected from the shock caused by the global financial crisis and economic recession in 2008 and 2009. The vast majority of destinations had positive international tourist arrivals and international tourism receipts.

The number of international tourist arrivals reached 940.0 million in 2010, up 6.6% from the previous year. The recovery was particularly strong in emerging economies, where the number of international tourist arrivals grew faster (+8.3%) than in advanced economies (+5.1%).

The Middle East was the region with the strongest growth (+14.1%) in international tourist arrivals in 2010. Almost all destinations in this region bounced back at least 10.0%. In Asia-Pacific (+12.7%), international tourist arrivals hit a new high. Africa (+7.3%), the only region to post growth in 2009, continued on an upward trend in 2010. The Americas (+6.4%) rebounded after the decline in 2009. In Europe (+3.3%), recovery was slower than in other regions.

At the national level, France still leads the top 10 destinations, with 76.8 million tourists. In second and third place are the United States (59.7 million) and China (55.7 million). This is the first time that China has moved to third spot, bumping Spain to fourth place in the top 10 most popular destinations.

International tourism receipts rose 4.7% from the previous year to US$919.0 billion. All regions posted growth, with the exception of Europe (-0.4%). The strongest increases were in the Middle East (+14.4%) and Asia-Pacific (+12.8%). The Americas (+5.0 %) were close to the worldwide average, while Africa (+4.0%) had slower growth.

Destination-wise, the United States (+9.9%) is well ahead of the pack in first place on the list of receipts. Spain (-1.2%) and France (-6.2%) follow behind in second and third spot respectively.

Canada ranks 15th for international tourist arrivals and 14th for international tourism receipts. As for international tourism expenditure, Canada moved up two spots to sixth place.

Overnight travel from the United States to Canada recovers from 24-year low

United States residents made over 11.7 million overnight trips to Canada in 2010, up 0.7% from 2009. This was the first annual increase in overnight travel by United States residents in six years. It is however down 22.1% from 2004 when U.S. residents made 15.1 million overnight trips to Canada.

While overnight plane travel to Canada rebounded 5.7% in 2010 to 3.5 million trips, overnight car travel declined 1.8%, the sixth consecutive annual decrease.

Overnight travel by residents of overseas countries increases

Overnight travel by residents of overseas countries increased in 2010 after a decline in 2009. Travellers from overseas countries made about 4.1 million overnight trips to Canada, up 5.1% from the previous year. This was the sixth increase in seven years.

Canadians continue to travel abroad

Canadian residents took 28.7 million overnight trips abroad in 2010, an increase of 9.4% from the previous year and a new high. This was the seventh time in eight years that overnight travel outside the country increased.

Overnight travel to the United States jumped 11.1% from 2009. Canadian residents took nearly 20.0 million overnight trips to the U.S., the highest year on record. Overnight car travel to the U.S. rose 10.3% from 2009 with 11.9 million trips, the highest level since 1993. Overnight plane travel increased 13.3% to 6.9 million trips in 2010, the highest figure since record keeping began in 1972.

Travel to overseas countries reached a high of 8.7 million overnight trips, up 5.9% from 2009. This was the eighth consecutive annual increase. Travel to overseas countries has risen 86.2% since 2002, the last annual decline.

Same-day car travel from the United States hits bottom

United States residents made 7.4 million same-day car trips to Canada in 2010, down 5.1% from 2009 and the lowest number since record keeping started in 1972. Back then, Americans made 21.0 million same-day car trips to Canada.

Same-day car travel by U.S. residents has fallen every year since peaking at 27.3 million in 1999, with seven of the last nine years experiencing double-digit declines.

A combination of factors may have contributed to this downward trend in same-day car travel from the United States, including increased border security following the events of September 11th, 2001, passport requirements since June 2009, and more recently, the after effects of the financial crisis of the fall of 2008 and the resultant economic difficulties experienced in the United States. In addition, the Canadian Dollar had an average value of 97.1 US cents in 2010, up 10.9% from 2009 (87.6 US cents) and 44.3% from 1999 (67.3 US cents).

Same-day car travel to the United States rebounds

Canadians made 24.5 million same-day car trips to the United States in 2010, a jump of 17.3% from the previous year and the highest figure since 2000.

Despite the increase, same-day car travel to the United States by Canadian residents is still less than half of the record high of 59.1 million set in 1991.

In 1991, the Canadian Dollar had an average value of 87.3 US cents.

United States market

United States residents made 6.5 million overnight trips to Canada for pleasure purposes in 2010, the most important trip purpose. Overnight trips to visit friends and relatives was the second most common trip purpose with 2.7 million overnight trips, while U.S. residents took 1.7 million overnight business trips.

Pleasure travel includes holidays and vacations, visiting a second home, cottage or condo and attending events and attractions. Business travel includes attending meetings, conventions, conferences, trade shows and seminars, and participating in other work-related matters.

Although business travel was third in terms of trips and nights spent in Canada by U.S. residents, it was first in terms of average trip spending. While American residents spent an average of $138 per night in Canada on pleasure trips, business travellers spent an average of $248 per night. This resulted in an average of $815 spent per business trip in Canada by U.S. residents. The average for a pleasure trip was $573.

Car travel represented 58.9% of overnight trips from the United States, while overnight travel by plane represented 29.5%.

Travel from the top states

The state of New York was the largest source of American tourists travelling to Canada with 1.6 million overnight trips. Washington and Michigan were second and third with 1.2 million and 1.1 million trips to Canada respectively. While California was fourth in terms of trips to Canada (834,000), it was first in term of expenditures with $598.0 million spent in the country.

Ontario the most popular destination for overnight travel by U.S. residents

Of the 11.7 million overnight trips from the United States to Canada in 2010, about 5.6 million included an overnight visit to Ontario. British Columbia was the second most visited province, with nearly 3.0 million overnight visits and Quebec was third with 1.8 million overnight visits.

Overseas market

Residents of overseas countries made 4.1 million overnight trips to the country in 2010. This was an increase of 5.1% from the previous year.

Residents of overseas countries spent $5.7 billion on overnight trips to Canada, 4.3% more than the previous year. They stayed 72.5 million nights in Canada, or 17.6 nights per overnight trip. Overall, residents of overseas countries spent $78 per night on overnight trips to Canada.

Over half of all tourists from overseas countries come from Europe

European residents made 2.2 million overnight trips to Canada in 2010, a 2.9% decrease from 2009. Over half of all tourists from overseas countries came from Europe.

Every region posted an increase in the number of visitors to Canada except for Central America.

United Kingdom largest overseas market by far

The United Kingdom remained Canada's most important overseas market, with its residents making 661,000 overnight trips to Canada in 2010. About one in six tourists from overseas countries came from the United Kingdom.

Among the top 12 overseas markets, Mexico posted the largest decline with a 28.1% drop from 2009. This is the second consecutive year that Mexico has recorded a significant decrease. There were 116,000 trips to Canada in 2010, less than half of the figure recorded in 2008 when Mexican residents made 257,000 trips here. As of July 2009, Mexican citizens have required visas to visit Canada.

A number of Asian countries among the top 12 markets recorded impressive increases in 2010. China led the way with a 21.2% increase, followed by South Korea (+19.9%), Japan (+19.5%), and India (+18.9%). Canada received approved destination status by the Chinese Government in June 2010.

The top four overseas markets to Canada in 2010 were the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Japan respectively.

Ontario remains most visited province

Travellers from overseas countries made 1.8 million overnight visits in Ontario in 2010, the most in any province. British Columbia was the second most visited province with 1.4 million overnight visits, up 10.4% from 2009. Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in February and March 2010. Quebec rounded out the top three with 1.0 million overnight visits. About 30.0% of all overnight visits to Quebec from overseas were by residents of France.

Outbound market

Travel abroad continued its upward trend in 2010. While pleasure continued to be the most popular reason to travel to the United States and overseas countries, business travellers were the highest spenders. Business visitors from Canada on overnight trips abroad spent an average of $181 per night, twice as much as people on pleasure trips ($89), and three times as much as those visiting friends and relatives ($58).

While seven out of ten overnight trips by Canadian residents in 2010 were to the United States, only 55.7% of Canadian expenditures on overnight trips abroad were in the United States. This was in part due to the fact that Canadians travelling to overseas destinations spent an average of 15.7 nights out of the country compared to an average of 8.1 nights in the United States.

Ontario residents travelled the most outside the country, making 12.8 million overnight trips abroad in 2010. Residents of Quebec were also well travelled making 5.4 million overnight trips. Residents of Ontario and Quebec accounted for 63.3% of all overnight trips from Canada to the United States and overseas countries.

Overnight travel to the United States increases in 2010

Canadian travel to the United States neared 20.0 million overnight trips in 2010. This was an 11.1% rebound from 2009, the first decline in overnight travel to the United States since 2003.

With the increase in travel, spending on overnight trips south of the border rose 16.3% compared to the previous year to $14.7 billion. Canadians stayed 160.9 million nights in the United States, spending an average of $92 per night with an average stay of 8.1 nights per overnight trip.

About three out of five overnight trips to the United States, or 11.9 million, were by car, while overnight travel by plane climbed to a high of 6.9 million.

New York most visited state, but more money spent in Florida

The most visited state by Canadian residents in 2010 was New York State with 3.4 million overnight visits. Florida was the second most visited state with 3.1 million overnight visits and Washington State rounded out the top three with 2.3 million overnight visits.

While Canadian residents spent $1.3 billion and stayed 9.7 million nights in New York State, Florida was tops in both categories. Canadians spent $3.6 billion in Florida, and stayed 53.9 million nights. Both figures were significantly higher than those for any other state. By comparison, in both spending and trip nights, California came second, with Canadians spending $1.3 billion and staying 13.6 million nights in that state.

On average, Canadians stayed the longest in Florida (17.4 nights per overnight visit) and spent the most in Nevada ($188 per night).

More than one in three Canadians travelling overseas visits Europe

Canadians made 4.2 million overnight visits to Europe in 2010, more than to any other region. Second place was the region of Bermuda and the Caribbean, with Canadians taking 2.5 million overnight visits there.

Europe was the most visited region, with Canadian residents making 0.6% more overnight visits there compared to 2009. However, Canadian residents made 19.9% more visits to Oceania and 16.0% more visits to Central America.

Overall, Canadians made 8.7 million overnight trips overseas, 5.9% more than in 2009. Canadians also spent $11.7 billion on trips overseas, up 3.3% from 2009.

On average, Canadians stayed 15.7 nights per trip overseas and spent $85 per night.

Sun destinations dominate overseas travel

Canadians made over 1.4 million overnight visits to Mexico, more than to any other country. This was 12.0% higher than the figure recorded in 2009.

Cuba remained in second place with over 1.0 million Canadian visits to the country in 2010. There were, however, 14.0% fewer overnight visits to the Dominican Republic, as the country slipped to fourth place among top Canadian destinations. The United Kingdom was the third most visited country as Canadian residents made 880,000 overnight visits to the country in 2010.

With a record number of overnight visits to Mexico, Canadians also spent the most on overnight travel in Mexico. Canadian residents spent $1.4 billion in Mexico in 2010.

The number of overnight trips overseas by Canadian residents has risen 93.0% from 4.5 million in 2000 to 8.7 million in 2010. In 2000, Canadian residents made over 1.1 million overnight visits to Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. In 2010, Canadian residents made over 3.1 overnights visits to those countries, up 173.9%.

International travel account

Canada's international travel deficit rose to a record $14.3 billion in 2010, up $2.1 billion from the previous year. This was the sixth consecutive annual increase in the deficit.

The deficit, which is the difference between spending by Canadian residents abroad and spending by travellers from abroad in Canada, was largely the result of a substantial increase in the spending of Canadian travellers visiting the United States.

In 2010, Canadians spent a record $30.5 billion on their trips outside Canada, up 10.0% from 2009.

During the same period, travellers from abroad injected $16.2 billion into the Canadian economy, up 4.2% from the previous year. This was the first increase in spending in Canada by residents from abroad since 2007.

This increase may most likely be attributable to the XXI Olympic Winter Games, which were held in Vancouver in 2010. Although spending by travellers from the United States was up slightly, overseas visitors to Canada were the main factor behind the increase in spending in Canada by travellers from abroad.

Travel deficit with the United States tops $10 billion mark

The travel deficit with the United States rose $2.3 billion to an all-time high of $10.9 billion in 2010. The travel deficit with the United States has been on an upward trend since 2005, except for the slight decrease posted in 2009.

Canadian residents travelling in the United States spent $18.2 billion, a strong increase of 15.3% compared with 2009. The spending of American travellers in Canada also rose, but only by 2.2%, to $7.2 billion in 2010. This was the first increase in spending by American residents travelling in Canada since 2004.

In 2010, the annual average value of the Canadian dollar was 97.1 US cents, up 10.9% from the previous year. The appreciation of the Canadian dollar against its US counterpart may have contributed to the larger increase in spending of Canadian residents travelling in the United States.

Decrease in the travel deficit with overseas countries

Canada's travel deficit with overseas countries declined to $3.3 billion in 2010, down $131.9 million compared with 2009.

Canadian residents spent $12.3 billion in overseas countries in 2010, up 3.0% from 2009. At the same time, spending by overseas residents in Canada rose 5.8% compared with 2009, reaching $9.0 billion.

In percentage terms, the increase in spending by overseas travellers in Canada was almost double the increase in spending by Canadians travelling in those countries. This contributed to the decrease in the international travel deficit between Canada and overseas countries.