International visitors power Canadian tourism boom

Visits from travellers who live outside Canada and the U.S. expected to rise 7.1% in 2017
Capilano Suspension Bridge is one of the top tourist attractions in Metro Vancouver | Shutterstock

Canada’s tourism sector has been doing extremely well all year thanks in part to festivities to mark the country’s 150th year as a nation but it is not only travellers from within Canada or even the U.S. that is driving the boom.

A December 20 report from the Conference Board of Canada crunched numbers to find that tourism growth from countries outside Canada and the U.S. is substantially higher than either domestic tourism growth or growth in the number of U.S. visitors.

The think tank’s Travel Markets Outlook report predicts that overnight tourist visits to Canada in 2017 will be up 3.1%. That compares with a 2.9% rise in domestic travel within Canada, a 2.7% increase in overnight visits from Americans and a 7.1% increase in visits from those outside Canada and the U.S.

The Conference Board of Canada expects international tourist visits to also be up 6.2% in 2018.

“This year, the biggest increase [45.1%] will come from Mexico thanks to a number of factors, including Canada’s decision to lift its visa requirement, an increase in direct air capacity between the two countries, and Donald Trump’s perceived disparaging statements toward Mexico,” noted the Conference Board of Canada’s report. 

Read: New flights strengthen Vancouver's tourism link with Mexico

“Next year, travel from China should be stimulated by the Canada-China Year of Tourism [initiative], which was initiated to boost tourism flows in both directions," predicted the report.

Overnight visits to Vancouver are forecast to have increased by 3% this year, fuelled by large sporting events and 150th anniversary celebrations. The Conference Board of Canada forecasts that overnight visits to the city will rise 3.4% next year thanks largely to more visits from Asia.

“The hundreds of events organized in communities across the country to commemorate Canada’s 150th birthday attracted visitors from both near and far, and contributed to a banner year for tourism in 2017,” said Greg Hermus, Associate Director for The Conference Board of Canada’s Canadian Tourism Research Institute.

“With this major milestone behind us, we can anticipate more subdued growth going forward. However, tourism will continue to be boosted by the low Canadian dollar, increased direct air capacity, and new marketing efforts.” 


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