For the second consecutive year, Canada had its best tourism year ever in 2018 with 21.13 million travelers to the country, according to Destination Canada, Canada’s national marketing organization.
This is an increase of 1.2% from 2017, which had previously set the record.
US visitors (14.44 million, +1.4%) continued to make up the majority of tourism arrivals to Canada in 2018. The positive performance, the highest level recorded since 2004, was driven by steady growth in auto arrivals (8.18 million, +2.4%), which are the largest source of overnight visitors to Canada, making up 56.7% of US arrivals in 2018. Combined with increased arrivals by other modes of transport such as bus, train, and cruise (+10.1%), they outpaced declining air arrivals (-3.1%) in 2018.
With global economic and political uncertainties weighing on arrival performances from Destination Canada’s long-haul markets in 2018 (+0.0%), growth in air arrivals direct from overseas (+3.7%) largely offset declines in cruise (-2.8%) and air arrivals via the US (-17.3%).
Overnight arrivals to Canada from countries other than the United States reached an all-time high of 6.7 million in 2018, representing 32% of the total arrivals.
China, France, Mexico, and India each set arrivals records to Canada in 2018. More than 700,000 Chinese (737,379) visited in 2018, an increase of 6% over 2017. More than 600,000 French (604,166) came, an increase of 5%. More than 400,000 (404,402) Mexicans traveled north to Canada, up 5% over 2017. Almost 300,000 (287,416) Indians visited Canada last year, a jump of 15% over 2017.
This record-breaking year is due to a number of contributing factors, including Destination Canada’s marketing efforts. In recent years the Government of Canada has implemented visa changes for priority markets by introducing the eTA and opening additional visa application centers in China, Canada’s third largest source market. New flight routes and increased service to Canadian airports have flight capacity soaring by 6% over 2017 to the highest level ever and representing an additional 2 million seats on flights to Canada.