Canadian Travel Trends: Are Changes Ahead?

Travel CanadaCanadian Tourism recently published data from the US Department of Commerce indicating that there has been an increase in travel from Canada to the USA. In 2011, more than one third of visitors to the U.S. were from Canada. Canadian travelers contributed just under $24 billion to the U.S. economy.

The strong value of the Canadian dollar was identified as the key economic driver for this record-breaking boost in travel.

"Newly released data showing a record 62 million foreign visits to the U.S. last year - including a most-ever 21 million trips by Canadians, by far the most from any country - was hailed this week by top Obama administration officials as proof that the tourism and travel industry is "an enormous economic engine" key to recharging U.S. growth and job generation."

In 2011, while U.S. travelers made a significant contribution to the Canadian economy with 11.6 million visitors, the strong Canadian dollar did keep some U.S. visitors away:

In spite of this, in 2011, Canada's international travel deficit climbed to a record high level of $15.9 billion.

Current Issues

Canada and the European Economic Community (EEC) are close to signing the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) that would eliminate most tariffs between Canada and the European Union. CETA can’t be passed without approval by all 27 EEC members. There are some obstacles.

Currently, Canada requires visas for citizens of 3 European Union Countries. Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Romania. This requirement was imposed in 2008 to stem the tide of refugees applying for landed immigrant status in Canada. By contrast, Canadians don’t require visas for travel to European Union countries.

If the current dispute between Canada and the EEC, there could be a number of negative consequences. For example, could we see the imposition of visa requirements for Canadians to travel to Europe? In 2010, a similar dispute over reciprocal visa requirements and requests for increased landing privileges for Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways, resulted in the United Arab Emirates imposing visas on Canadian citizens.

If visas are imposed, there may be a long term shift in travel patterns. This would have a direct impact on incentive travel and other forms of business travel and we could expect to see higher levels of travel to the U.S.

To keep on top of industry news, read Cvent's Strategic Meetings BlogHospitality Marketing BlogWeb Surveys Blog and Event Planning Blog. 

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