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 first quarter 2019 final indicators

  • During the first quarter of 2019, visitors from the United States spent $1.37 billion while the rest of the world combined spent $1.64 billion. For the last three quarters, the proportion of US spend compared to the rest of world has been decreasing, dropping from 50% in 2018 Q3 to 48% in 2018 Q4, and then to 46% in 2019 Q1.
  • The top three provinces for total international visitor spend were Ontario ($1.03 billion), British Columbia ($1.01 billion) and Quebec ($519 million). Collectively they represent around 85% of total spending by international travelers, increasing from 77% in 2018 Q3 and 82% in 2018 Q4.
  • Ontario captured 35% of all US visitor spending in Canada, ahead of British Columbia (33%) and Quebec (20%), which is consistent with arrivals at the border. According to Statistics Canada, Ontario welcomed 44% of US overnight arrivals, British Columbia welcomed 30%, and Quebec welcomed 16% US overnight arrivals in the first quarter of 2019.
  • Spending by international travellers was highest in Vancouver, Coast and Mountains region ($326 million from US and $461 million from other countries), followed by the Greater Toronto region ($247 million from US and $292 million from other countries) and Montréal ($164 million from US and $155 million from other countries) over the first quarter of 2019.
  • Travellers from Australia, France, Germany, the UK and the US spent significantly less on clothing and gifts (10% vs 21% by other countries).
  • Australians spent a significantly larger proportion on recreation and entertainment (17% vs overall 10%).
  • Compared with other countries, Chinese travellers spent the highest share on clothing and gifts (33% vs overall 13%) and the lowest share on accommodation (18% vs overall 37%).
  • Like the latter half year in 2018, visitors from France continued to spend the majority of their money in Quebec (58%) over the first quarter in 2019, including $38 million in Montréal, 17 million in the rest of Quebec and $9 million in Québec City. 
  • Unlike travellers from other countries, Indians spent a lot more in Alberta (26% vs 12% by other countries) over the first quarter of 2019.