Canada Tops 22 Million Arrivals For First Time In 2019

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

Canada welcomed 22.1 million travellers in 2019, marking a third consecutive record-breaking year.

According to Statistics Canada, tourism continues to play a significant role in the national economy, generating an estimated $104.9 billion in tourism expenditures in 2019, supporting approximately 1 in 10 jobs across Canada and contributing an estimated $43.5 billion in Gross Domestic Product.

Destination Canada, the country’s national tourism marketing organization, supports the growth of the visitor economy through data-driven marketing strategies that aim to stimulate international demand and tourism export revenue for Canada in 10 key countries: Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, the UK and the US. 

The focus on a diversified set of source markets is strategic, designed to maximize potential for growth, even when some regions experience uncertainty. 

Here are some highlights of 2019:


  • 2019 was the best year for Canadian tourism on record, with arrivals reaching 22.1 million, breaking the 22 million mark for the first time ever. 
  • Overnight arrivals to Canada from countries other than the United States reached an all-time high of 7.15 million (2018: 6.7 million). Overseas tourists typically stay in Canada longer and spend more. 
  • The United States saw a strong year in air arrivals with 5.1 million (2018: 4.6 million) and a solid rebound in automobile crossings with 8.5 million (2018: 8.2 million). Overall, the U.S. had another record-breaking year with 14.99 million total arrivals.
  • Mexico once again experienced impressive growth with 495,627 total arrivals, with a particularly notable increase of 12.4% in air arrivals. The Mexican market has continued to grow since changes to visa requirements at the end of 2016, which spurred demand for travel to Canada, prompting airlines to increase air service.
  • India saw an 9.7% increase in air arrivals helping achieve a new annual record for this market with 333,111 arrivals (2018: 287,416). 
  • Improvements in international air access to Canada helped stimulate travel with non-stop air services adding 2.2% more seats in 2019.  


“It is thanks to the hard work and passion of the millions of Canadians who contribute to this sector that we are experiencing another record-breaking year for tourism,” said Ben Cowan-Dewar, Chairperson of Destination Canada’s Board of Directors.

“Looking to 2020, we will continue to share relevant data, market intelligence and industry analysis with our partners to ensure we are promoting relevant, meaningful content to our audiences. This is especially relevant given uncertainty around the impact of the coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak. We are committed to working with our industry partners to continue inspiring those with glowing hearts to fall in love with Canada.”

Destination Canada says that in addition to its marketing efforts, continued growth in the tourism sector is attributable to a variety of factors such as the Government of Canada maintaining renewed visa requirements for key markets making it easier for more people to travel to Canada. There have also been new air routes added and increased service on existing routes to several Canadian airports, opening up additional air access. 


View the 2019 infographic from Destination Canada’s website.

Bruce Parkinson

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.

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