Canadian Tourism Beats Pre-Pandemic Levels Earlier than Expected and Sees Huge Potential Ahead

Snow-covered mountains and sunset skies

Destination Canada’s annual Tourism Outlook shows industry will require transformational change to capture $160-billion revenue potential by 2030

Vancouver, BC, December 12, 2023 - Today, Destination Canada released its latest Tourism Outlook: Unlocking Opportunities for the Sector, showing total tourism revenue is set to exceed 2019 levels, generating $109.5 billion by the end of 2023. This represents the recovery of the tourism sector from the COVID-19 pandemic, one year earlier than projected. Despite tourism coming to a standstill in 2020, the industry, post recovery, is expected to grow faster than the general economy at 5.8%, reflecting its resilience and importance to the economic vitality of the country.

While this is positive news, it is important to recognize that recovery both geographically and across sub sectors has been uneven. The challenge ahead is creating profitable growth for tourism businesses given their current debt loads and inflationary pressures.

The report outlines that there is an opportunity for the tourism sector’s growth trajectory to reach $160 billion in revenue by 2030, but capacity constraints are limiting the sector from achieving its full potential. A transformational path must be embraced. Without change, tourism will move forward along its long-term trajectory where constraints will limit its potential to $140 billion, which when adjusted for inflation, shows no real growth.

“At this critical juncture, we face a clear choice,” said Meaghan Ferrigno, Destination Canada’s Chief Data and Analytics Officer. “The difference between $160 and $140 billion is about more than revenue. It’s about unleashing capacity when and where we have it, it's about creating stable employment and enhancing societal wellbeing. And importantly, it’s about smart growth that drives real prosperity for tourism businesses across every corner of this country.”

Destination Canada proposes a transformative approach to unlock the additional $20 billion in revenue annually by 2030. The report outlines seven key levers that will bolster Canada’s competitiveness and address constraints. These include workforce development, unleashing capacity outside of peak season, attracting higher yield guests, increasing air access, and bolstering new investment and reinvestment to the sector.

“This is a truly pivotal moment for our industry. The opportunity between our transformational growth agenda and the current continuous path is one that we cannot afford to lose. We need to choose collective action to overcome the constraints that hold us back from unlocking the true potential of the tourism sector,” said, Destination Canada’s President and CEO, Marsha Walden. “If we work together, we can achieve what’s possible and recapture our position as a top destination for global tourism and create wealth and wellbeing for all of Canada”.

Key Report Highlights:

  1. Tourism revenue will exceed pre-pandemic levels in 2023: Amid inflationary headwinds, tourism spending will exceed pre-COVID-19 levels in 2023, reaching $109.5 billion. Domestic activity has led revenue recovery and is on track to reach 104% of 2019 levels by the end of 2023.
  2. Opportunities constrained by capacity​: As we look to 2024 and beyond, opportunities for growth prevail but challenges persist as we enter a fiercely competitive global marketplace where we are all vying to attract travellers. ​Demand for travel is projected to grow by 30% by 2030 and will outpace our capacity to host in peak seasons, limiting Canada's growth potential.
  3. $160 billion Potential: The report identifies a $160 billion revenue potential for the tourism industry by 2030, but only if a transformational path is taken that addresses constraints and shifts demand to change how growth occurs.
  4. Closing the $20 billion opportunity gap: Destination Canada proposes a transformative path to secure an additional $20 billion in annual revenue by 2030, driving real prosperity for tourism businesses across the country and contributing a 14% increase in GDP generated by tourism, 84,000 more jobs and $5.3 billion more in tax revenue for all levels of Government.
  5. Transformational path: Industry transformation will close the $20 billion opportunity gap but it will require sector-wide collaboration on seven key levers: revenue and yield growth, brand leadership, investment, access, workforce and digital readiness, environmental sustainability and support from Canadians.

Download the full report here.

About the Tourism Outlook

Destination Canada’s Tourism Outlook report is developed in collaboration with Tourism Economics, a subsidiary of Oxford Economics. The Fall 2023 Tourism Outlook was conducted between June and September 2023, and the outlook’s assumptions reflect the operating context of that time.​ This Tourism Outlook presents the current state and future of tourism in Canada with special attention to the opportunity gap that exists and how to mobilize industry and partners to address barriers to growth and unlock the full potential of Canada's tourism sector.​

About Destination Canada

At Destination Canada, we believe that tourism enhances the wealth and wellbeing of Canadians and enriches the lives of visitors. Our mission is to influence supply and build demand for the benefit of locals, communities and visitors through leading research, alignment with public and private sectors, and marketing Canada nationally and abroad.

​Knowing that diversity is our greatest asset, we promote Canada as a premier four-season leisure and business tourism destination around the country and world in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, United Kingdom and the United States. In addition, our Business Events team leverage in-depth global market analysis to target international clusters aligned with Canada's priority economic sectors. Destination Canada is a Crown corporation wholly owned by the Government of Canada.

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