Canada welcomed 20.8 million tourists in 2017, the highest ever total in Canadian history.
The preliminary data, released today by Statistics Canada, shows that Canada has surpassed the previous record set in 2002 by almost one million.
"Today's results are yet another reminder of what has been clear for a while now: Canada is back. And more and more, the world wants to come and visit. We are excited to share our vibrant cities, beautiful natural attractions, diverse cultures and proud history with record numbers of visitors,” said the Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Small Business and Tourism.
“This is great news for our tourism sector, and the more than 1.8 million jobs that depend on it. We are only just getting started, too. Our government is investing in Canada's tourism sector and we have a comprehensive plan to increase tourism even further," Chagger added.
Since the previous peak year in 2002, the composition of tourists to Canada has changed significantly. Overnight arrivals to Canada from countries other than the United States reached an all-time high of over 31% in 2017, up from 19% in 2002. Overseas tourists typically stay in Canada longer and spend more.
“This is fantastic news for Canada,” said Ben Cowan-Dewar, Chairperson of Destination Canada’s Board of Directors. “Working with industry partners across the country has given us a competitive edge and positioned Canada as top of mind for travellers from all over the world.”
Destination Canada attributed the record-breaking year is due to several factors, including innovative marketing campaigns in key international markets, visa changes for priority markets and the opening of seven new visa application centres in China, which is now Canada’s third-largest source market. As well, new flight routes and increased service to Canadian airports saw inbound capacity up 7% last year to the highest level ever.
Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief
An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.