Canada welcomed a record breaking 20.8 million tourists in 2017, the highest ever in Canadian history.
The preliminary data, released on Feb. 20 by Statistics Canada, shows that Canada has surpassed the previous record set in 2002, by almost a 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 and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. “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. As we celebrate the Canada-China Year of Tourism this year, I am certain that the record we set in 2017 is just the beginning of the amazing news for this vital sector.”
“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.”
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 also spend more, benefiting tourism businesses across Canada, and the Canadian economy.
This record breaking year is due to a number of contributing factors, including Destination Canada’s innovative marketing campaigns in key international markets. The Government of Canada has implemented visa changes for priority markets by introducing the eTA and opening seven new visa application centres in China, Canada’s third largest source market. New flight routes and increased service to Canadian airports have flight capacity soaring by 7% over 2016 to the highest level ever. It’s now easier than ever before for tourists to explore Canada.
View the 2017 Best Year Ever infographic or download the full report from Destination Canada’s website.