Characteristics of international travellers

First quarter 2005 (preliminary)

August 29, 2005 – Lured by the charm of Europe as well as the Caribbean sun, Canadians travelled in record numbers to overseas nations between January and March this year.

Canadian residents made over 2 million overnight trips to overseas countries during the first three months of 2005, a 7.9% increase from the same quarter last year and a first quarter record high.

In doing so, they spent an estimated $2.8 billion, a 7.4% increase and the highest level for the first three months of any year.

Even though overnight travel to the United States fell short of an all-time high, the gain in overseas travel was enough to set a first-quarter record for total overnight travel abroad.

In total, Canadians made 5.5 million overnight trips outside the country, up 9.8%. Of these, about 3.4 million were to the United States, an 11.0% gain.

The top three overseas destinations for Canadians were still Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Cuba, although travel to the Dominican Republic fell 10.6%.

At the same time, four European nations (the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy) posted the biggest year-over-year gains in Canadian travel overseas.

In fact, the number of Canadians who visited Italy almost tripled during the first three months of the year. This increase coincided with Easter celebrations hosted by the Vatican and the failing health of Pope John Paul II.


Top 10 overseas countries visited by Canadians
  First quarter 2005p First quarter 2004r First quarter 2004 to first quarter 2005
  Visits ‘000 Visits ‘000 % change
Mexico 480 421 14.1
Dominican Republic 283 316 -10.6
Cuba 265 257 3.4
United Kingdom 125 92 36.0
France 86 64 33.8
Hong Kong 71 55 29.4
Germany 56 40 39.3
Italy 48 17 177.7
Australia 44 42 3.6
Thailand 42 40 5.4
p Preliminary.
r Revised.


Trips from overseas to Canada rise

While Canadians were travelling in record numbers overseas, overseas visitors were flocking to Canada.

For the first time in four years, Canada recorded a first quarter increase in the number of overnight trips from overseas travellers. About 619,000 visitors arrived here between January and March, up 16.1% from the same three months last year.

Only two nations in Canada’s top 10 overseas markets recorded declines in overnight travel during the first quarter: Taiwan (-1.3%) and China (-4.0%).

The United Kingdom remained the top overseas market with 143,000 overnight trips to Canada, up 22.5% from the first quarter of 2004.

However, travel was up 43.2% from Mexico, the largest increase. This coincided with Easter celebrations in March, a popular vacation time for Mexican residents.

Overseas residents spent an estimated $857 million on overnight trips in Canada, up 9.0% from the first quarter of 2004.

Travel south of the border: Canadian travellers take advantage of the rising loonie

First quarter Canadian travel to the United States increased for the second consecutive year, thanks in part to gains made by the loonie. The Canadian dollar was up 7.4% in value against the American greenback in the first quarter of 2005, compared to the same quarter in 2004.

Florida continued to be the most popular destination, as more than 900,000 Canadian residents travelled to the Sunshine State. Michigan had the largest increase in overnight visits (+18.7%).

But Canadians also flocked to Arizona, with a 30.1% increase in spending and a 49.0% increase in the number of nights they spent in the state. Although it was the ninth most popular state in terms of visits, Arizona was fourth in terms of spending and third for the number nights spent there.

Pleasure trips, which accounted for 56.8% of overnight Canadian travel to the United States, rose 11.3% from the first quarter of 2004. At the same time, the number of trips to visit friends and relatives rose 16.0%.

The stronger loonie may also have been a factor in the highest first quarter level of overnight car trips by Canadians to the United States since 1997. These trips rose 9.2% to 1.7 million. In addition, the number of overnight trips taken by air reached its highest level for the first quarter since 2001.

Canadian spending in the United States rose 11.8% to about $2.7 billion. Average spending per trip edged up from $801 to $807.

Jump in American travel to Canada

Of the 2.7 million overnight trips to Canada between January and March, 2.1 million were from the United States, a 1.8% gain.

Washington was the most popular state of origin as over 300,000 state residents made overnight trips to Canada, although there were 5.0% fewer visitors from the state compared to the first quarter of 2004.

Among the top 10 states of origin for overnight travel to Canada, Maine recorded the largest decline (-15.2%) and Illinois registered the largest increase (+26.1%).

Overnight travel by air from the United States rose 9.4% to surpass the 700,000 trip mark. Meanwhile, overnight travel by car fell 2.5%. It was the third consecutive year in which the number of first-quarter overnight car trips fell.

Americans spent nearly $1.1 billion in Canada, up 4.3% from the first quarter of 2004. This spending accounted for nearly 55.7% of total spending by foreign overnight travellers in Canada.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3152.

This release summarises data now available from the International Travel Survey. Tables, various statistical profiles and micro-data files detailing the characteristics of international travellers using preliminary first quarter 2005 data, as well as revised 2004 data, are now available on request.

Data on characteristics of international travellers for the second quarter 2005 will be released on November 28.

To obtain one or more of these products, contact Client Services (1-800-307-3382; 613-951-7608; fax: 613-951-2909; cult.tourstats@statcan.ca). To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Frances Kremarik (613-951-4240; fax: 613-951-2909; frances.kremarik@statcan.ca), Culture, Tourism and the Centre for Education


Top US states visited by Canadians, first quarter
  Overnight visits Expenditures
  2004r 2005p 2004 to 2005 2004r 2005p 2004 to 2005
State ‘000 % change $’000,000 % change
Florida 865 922 6.6 838 912 8.8
New York 324 364 12.4 104 119 14.7
California 280 326 16.4 252 306 21.4
Washington 272 309 13.6 52 59 14.2
Nevada 230 225 -2.5 200 166 -17.2
Michigan 189 224 18.7 36 41 13.7
Georgia 148 163 10.6 33 38 17.3
South Carolina 161 162 0.5 90 89 -1.5
Arizona 144 159 10.9 137 178 30.1
Virginia 138 159 15.3 16 15 -9.1
p Preliminary.
r Revised.

Person-trips, person-nights and selected expenditures by foreign travellers in Canada, first quarter 2005 (preliminary)
  Trips Nights Average number of nights Spending Spending per trip Spending per night Trips
  ‘000   $’000,000  $ $ % change (2004 to 2005)
United States: Total 2,100 6,802 3.24 1,076 512 158  1.8
Auto 1,239 3,505 2.83 398 321 114 -2.5
Plane 710 2,847 4.01 622 876 218 9.4
Business 441 1,335 3.03 332 752 248 -1.4
Pleasure 1,018 3,417 3.36 556 546 163 1.0
Visiting relatives and friends 394 1,344 3.41 94 239 70 6.0
Overseas: Total 619 8,309 13.41 857 1,384 103 16.1

Overnight travel between Canada and other countries
  Trips Expenditures
  Fourth quarter 2004r First quarter 2004r First quarter 2005p 2004 to 2005 Fourth quarter 2004r First quarter 2004r First quarter 2005p 2004 to 2005
  ‘000 % change ‘000,000 % change
Canadian trips abroad 4,155 4,967 5,452 9.8 3,520 5,022 5,502 9.6
To the United States 2,987 3,049 3,384 11.0 1,722 2,443 2,732 11.8
To other countries 1,168 1,917 2,068 7.9 1,798 2,578 2,770 7.4
Travel to Canada 3,395 2,597 2,720 4.7 2,352 1,818 1,933 6.4
From the United States 2,656 2,064 2,100 1.8 1,406 1,031 1,076 4.3
From other countries 740 533 619 16.1 946 786 857 9.0
r Revised figures.
p Preliminary figures.

Overnight travel between Canada and other countries
  Trips Expenditures
  2003r 2004r  2003 to 2004  2003r 2004r 2003 to 2004
  ‘000 % change $’000,000 % change
Canadian trips abroad 17,739 19,595 10.5 15,698  17,475 11.3
To the United States 12,666 13,856 9.4 8,075  8,664 7.3
To other countries 5,074 5,739 13.1 7,624  8,811 15.6
Travel to Canada 17,420 19,032 9.3 11,683 13,564 16.1
From the United States 14,232 15,088 6.0 7,288  8,168 12.1
From other countries 3,188 3,944 23.7 4,395  5,396 22.8
r Revised figures.

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