Tourism Spend

Visitor Spending in Canada

Each quarter, Destination Canada will publish new data on international tourism spend in Canada by 10 key markets and the rest of the world. 

These indicators, developed by Statistics Canada for the tourism sector, provide spending of international visitors while in 20 regions across Canada  and in six key tourism spending categories:

  • Accommodation
  • Food and beverage
  • Recreation and entertainment
  • Clothing and gifts
  • Transportation
  • Other

The spend is estimated by Statistics Canada by combining the Visitor Travel Survey data and the anonymized, aggregated data obtained from the financial sector. The early indicator is a prediction measure of foreign tourism spending in Canada, which is usually released 2 months before the current quarter survey data becomes available.  For information on the quality of the estimates, please refer to the ‘Note to Users’ included in the data tables.

Early Indicators

Key highlights from first quarter 2019 early indicators

  • Over the first three months of 2019, visitors from the United States represented 45% ($1.9 billion) of all spending by international visitors, visitors from China represented 12% ($511 million) and visitors from the United Kingdom represented 4% ($185 million). Over the same period, Canada welcomed almost 3.8 million visitors from the United States, of which Statistics Canada estimates that 2 million were visitors that stayed one or more nights in Canada.  The number of same-day and overnight visitors from China were 136,820 and from the United Kingdom were 101,019.  
  • International visitors spent 38% ($1.6 billion) of all their spending on food and beverages, 27% ($1.1 billion) on accommodation, 17% ($721 million) on clothing and gifts, 8% ($314 million) on transportation, 8% ($314 million) on recreation and entertainment, and 1% ($59 million) on souvenirs. 
  • Of all the countries tracked, Indian travellers spent highest share of their spend in the Greater Toronto Area, representing 23% ($12.2 million). Second highest was Montréal (10.3%, $5.3 million) followed by Vancouver (9%, $4.9 million).
  • Visitors from the United States seemed to indulge in Vancouver and Ontario’s food scene - they spent 10% of their total spend ($191 million) on food and beverages in Vancouver, 6% ($117 million) in the Greater Toronto Area and 7% ($130 million) in the rest of Ontario. 
  • Chinese travellers spent 52% ($5 million) of their spend in Calgary on clothing and gifts, and only 8% ($770,900) on accommodation. In contrast, in the Kootenay Rockies, Chinese spent 52% ($995,800) of their spending on accommodation and 12% ($221,300) on clothing and gifts. 
  • International travellers spent 54% ($13.4 million) on accommodation in Northwest Territories, 47% ($3 million) in Nunavut and 32% ($6.5 million) in Yukon. This is much higher than the average of 27% on accommodation nationally.
  • Australian visitors seemed more likely to stay overnight in the Niagara region - 44% ($1.3 million) of their spend in Niagara region was on accommodation compared to the average of 24% ($38 million) by all countries combined. 

Final Indicators

Key highlights from fourth quarter 2018 

  • Visitors from the United States represented 47.5% ($1.84 billion) of all spending by international visitors, while the rest of the world combined was 52.5% ($2.03 billion).  Visitors from the United States to Canada numbered 4.9 million or 78.8% of all travellers in the fourth quarter.  Of these US visitors, 55.7% were overnight visitors, who spent an estimated 92.4% of total expenditures from the United States (source: Visitor Travel Survey).
  • Relative to other countries, Chinese visitors spent a bigger share of their total expenditure in Canada on clothing and gifts (38.1% Vs average 17.9%) – and the lowest share on accommodation (14.0% Vs. average 32.3%).
  • Travellers from France, Germany and the UK spent significantly more of their overall disbursements in Canada on accommodation compared with most other countries (38.6% Vs 30.0%); however, they spent significantly less on clothing and gifts (13.5% Vs 19.5%).
  • Japanese and Korean travellers had similar spending patterns with a few exceptions: Japanese travellers spent a much bigger share of their total expenditure on accommodation (35.6% Vs 29.5%) - at level similar to that by European travellers, and Korean visitors spent more on clothes and gifts (19.6% Vs 15.1%).
  • Australians spent a significantly bigger share of their overall disbursements on Recreation and Entertainment (16.1% Vs. 9.8%) .
  • Relative to other countries, travellers from India spent a significantly bigger share of their overall disbursements on transportation (21.0% Vs 12.3%).
  • Over the fourth quarter of 2018, Ontario captured 39% of all US visitor spending in Canada, ahead of British Columbia (23%) and Quebec (19%).
  • Spending by international visitors was highest in Vancouver, Coast and Mountains Region ($816 million), followed by Greater Toronto Region ($710 million), Montreal ($475 million) and Rest of Ontario ($402 million).
  • The top three provinces for total international visitor expenditures were Ontario ($1.44 billion), British Columbia ($1.02 billion) and Quebec ($ 712 million). Collectively they constituted around 80.7% of total spending by international travellers.
  • Spending by non-US travellers was highest in Vancouver, Coast and Mountains Region ($509 million), followed by Greater Toronto Region ($392 million) and Montréal ($230 million), whereas that for the US travellers was highest in Greater Toronto Region ($319 million), followed by Vancouver, Coast and Mountains Region ($307 million) and Montréal ($245 million).