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Canadians made a record number of overseas trips last year: Statistics Canada

Canadian Press

May 27, 2005

OTTAWA (CP) - Canadians made a record number of overseas journeys last year and spent a record amount of money on their trips, Statistics Canada report Friday.

They made 5.7 million trips to countries other than the United States and spent $8.8 billion.

The number of trips jumped 13.1 per cent from 2003, when the war in Iraq and the SARS outbreak put a blanket on travel.

And the trend continued into the first quarter of this year, as Canadians pushed travel spending to another record and pushed the travel deficit - the difference between what Canadians spend outside the country and what visitors spend here - to $1.2 billion, its highest level in more than a year.

The United Kingdom regained its status as the top overseas destination for Canadian travellers last year, with an estimated 753,000 visits. Mexico fell to second place with 705,000 Canadian trips.

More than 800,000 Britons visited Canada in return.

Overnight visits to the Caribbean were up 16.7 per cent from 2003, with Cuba and the Dominican Republic recording increases of 15.3 per cent and 26.8 per cent respectively. Each welcomed more than half a million Canadians.

Travel to Asia rebounded substantially after falling in 2003. Overnight visits to the continent rose 31.7 per cent and travel to China, Japan and Hong Kong each rose by at least 32 per cent.

Travel between Canada and the United States also recovered in 2004. Overnight travel to the United States was up 9.4 per cent, while overnight travel to Canada from the United States rose 6.0 per cent over 2003.

Canadian preferences for overseas countries as opposed to the United States have increased during the last decade, the statistics agency said. In 1993, only 15.9 per cent of all trips abroad by Canadians were to overseas countries. By 2004, this proportion had almost doubled to 29.3 per cent.

Canada also got more overseas visitors last year after three years of decline. More than 3.9 million people from countries other than the United States visited in 2004, up 23.6 per cent from 2003. They spent $5.4 billion here, up 22 per cent.

Canadians travelling to the United States spent $8.7 billion there last year, while American visitors spent $8.2 billion here.

Travel was still booming in the first three months of this year, as Canadians spent a record $5.5 billion abroad, including $3 billion in the United States.

However, spending by foreigners in Canada slipped to $4.3 billion, a 0.6 per cent decline from the all-time high set in the previous quarter.

© The Canadian Press 2005

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It would be prudent to put alot more focus on attracting overseas visitors since Americans don't seem to want to travel internationally as much as they once did. We've also got to work on that deficit. There's alot more for tourists here than many recognize.

Did anyone else see the episode of Joan of Arcadia when the Father said that Canada was only a place to vacation for people who couldn't afford to go on vacation (Or something meaning that)? I was pretty annoyed, but could it be true?
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