A record breaking year for Canada’s tourism sector

A record breaking year for Canada’s tourism sector

Today, Destination Canada - Canada’s national marketing organization, announced a second consecutive record-breaking year with 21.13 million travellers to Canada in 2018 according to Statistics Canada.

Tourism generates 745,300 jobs in communities across Canada and contributes an estimated $102.5 billion to the economy. Destination Canada supports this thriving sector through innovative, data-driven marketing in key international markets with industry partners.

“The results released today once again demonstrate that tourism is a key part of the Canadian economy,” said the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie. “Canada’s tourism sector creates good jobs and supports middle-class families in every region of the country. Our government is determined to help this sector reach its full potential. That’s why we’re developing a new tourism strategy. We want Canada to take its rightful place among the world’s top destinations.”

“These strong results reflect the passion and dedication of the thousands of Canadians who work in our tourism sector,” said Ben Cowan-Dewar, Chairperson of Destination Canada’s Board of Directors. “Destination Canada has aligned industry partners across the country when marketing Canada internationally to give Canada a competitive edge and consistent voice to position Canada as top of mind for travellers from all over the world.”

Overnight arrivals to Canada from countries other than the United States reached an all-time high of 6.7 million in 2018, representing 32% of the total arrivals. Overseas tourists typically stay in Canada longer and spend more, benefiting tourism businesses in communities across Canada, and the economy.

This record-breaking year is due to a number of contributing factors, including Destination Canada’s marketing efforts. In recent years the Government of Canada has implemented visa changes for priority markets by introducing the eTA and opening additional visa application centres in China, Canada’s third largest source market. New flight routes and increased service to Canadian airports have flight capacity soaring by 6% over 2017 to the highest level ever and representing an additional 2 million seats on flights to Canada. It’s now easier than ever before for tourists to explore Canada.

Key highlights

  • 2018 was the best year for Canadian tourism on record, with arrivals reaching 21.13 million, breaking the 21 million mark for the first time ever.
  • China, France, and Mexico surpassed the 700K, 600K, and 400K marks, respectively, for annual visitors to Canada for the first time in 2018.
  • A record breaking performance in December brought 2018 US arrivals to 14.44 million, the highest level recorded since 2004.
  • New annual arrivals records set in the following key international markets:
    • China – 737,379 arrivals, an increase of 6% over 2017 (first time exceeding 700,000)
    • France – 604,166 arrivals, an increase of 5% over 2017(first time exceeding 600,000)
    • Mexico – 404,402 arrivals, an increase of 5% over 2017 (first time exceeding 400,000)
    • India – 287,416 arrivals, an increase of 15% over 2017
  • New monthly arrivals records set for December in the following key international markets:
    • United States – 944,886 arrivals, an increase of 2% over December 2017
    • China – 41,497 arrivals, an increase of 6% over December 2017
    • France – 41,014 arrivals, an increase of 2% over December 2017
    • Mexico – 40,996 arrivals, an increase of 6% over December 2017
    • Australia – 37,485 arrivals, an increase of 4% over December 2017
    • India – 17,855 arrivals, an increase of 5% over December 2017.

View the 2018 Best Year Ever infographic or download the full report.

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