Travel and tourism
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Tourism in Canada experienced declines in 2009 both in the number of visitors to Canada and in dollars spent on tourism. The World Tourism Organization reported that international tourist arrivals declined worldwide by 4% in 2009, the first such decline since 2003. Three issues are thought to be responsible for the downturn: the 2008–2009 recession, the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic and the new Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative rules that came into effect on June 1, 2009.
Government revenues from tourism activities in Canada declined 3.7% to $19.2 billion in 2009, decreasing for the first time since 2003. Of this total, $8.8 billion in revenues went to the federal government, down 5.0% from the previous year. Most of the decline in government tourism revenue stemmed from a drop in revenue directly related to tourism exports, which fell 9.6% to $4.3 billion.
Tourism spending by international visitors fell 12.8% in 2009, as travel from both the United States and overseas countries declined. Revenues from domestic tourism spending declined 1.8% to $14.9 billion, the first such decline since 2000.
Spending recovers in 2010
Tourism spending in Canada increased 4.2% in real terms in 2010, following a 2.2% decline in 2009. Spending by international visitors in Canada was up 1.9%, boosted by a strong first-quarter performance related to the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics held in Vancouver. This was the first annual increase in tourism exports in six years.
Overnight travel from the United States and overseas countries increased 0.7% and 6.8%, respectively. Same-day travel from the United States continued its downward trend, dropping 4.4% from 2009. A more expensive Canadian dollar and higher gas prices contributed to the decline in same-day travel.
International visitors' spending on several commodities increased in 2010, including passenger air transport (7.1%), accommodation (3.0%) and food and beverage services (2.2%). Outlays on vehicle fuel, recreation and entertainment and non-tourism commodities all declined.
Tourism gross domestic product (GDP) advanced 4.4%, with gains posted in all quarters in 2010. Most industries expanded, led by a 6.4% rise in tourism GDP for the transportation industry. In comparison, the GDP for Canada rose 3.3% in 2010.
Winter Olympics bring in the crowds
The 21st Winter Olympics were hosted by Vancouver in February and March 2010. Travel from the United States and overseas countries to Canada increased 5.2% from January to February. British Columbia alone experienced a 24.0% increase in non-resident entry during the month of February. In that month, 10.9% more overseas residents and 29.1% more American residents entered British Columbia for overnight trips compared with January. The largest increase (61.8%) was in the number of trips by residents of the Netherlands.
Tourism spending by non-Canadians reached a high of $3.6 billion in the first quarter of 2010, a 6.4% jump from the previous quarter but still down 3.2% from the first quarter of 2009. International visitors spent $2.4 billion in Canada in the first quarter, up 0.4% from one year earlier, ending a string of year-over-year declines that started in the first quarter of 2008.
Money spent by international visitors on passenger air transport was up 10.0% in the first quarter of 2010 and spending on vehicle fuel was 4.2% higher compared with the fourth quarter of 2009.
Domestic spending on the increase
Spending on tourism in Canada by Canadians increased 4.8% in 2010, with most of the gain in the second and third quarters. Passenger air transportation with Canadian carriers increased 7.9%. Higher spending was registered on vehicle fuel (4.2%), accommodation services (5.2%), other tourism commodities (2.2%) and non-tourism commodities (7.2%).
Tourism employment edged up 0.1% for the year, reaching 617,200, as gains occurred in each quarter except the second. Employment increased in the accommodation, food and beverage services, recreation and entertainment, and non-tourism industries, whereas transportation and travel services industries posted declines. The increase in tourism employment contrasts with 2009, when tourism employment fell 0.5%. The accommodation industry and the recreation and entertainment industry were the only two industries to report employment increases in 2009.
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