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Travel to Canada remains below pre-pandemic level: StatCan

Country in November received fewer U.S. and other international visitors than it did in November 2019
The Vancouver Airport Authority expects more travellers this winter than on comparable dates in the 2019-2020 winter season

Canadian tourism has rebounded, and on a year-over-year basis is rapidly growing, but visitor counts from the U.S. and other countries remain below levels seen before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Data today from Statistics Canada show 408,610 non-residents arrived at Canadian airports equipped with personal identification kiosks (PIKs) in November 2019. That is eight per cent more than the 378,318 passengers who arrived at those airports last month, excluding the Toronto Pearson International Airport's Terminal 1, which newly has those kiosks even though it was in operation in 2019. 

Statistics Canada also broke out U.S.-resident trips to Canada at land borders. In November 2019, 903,130 Americans made those trips – 15.2 per cent more than the 783,490 Americans who made those trips last month. 

While fewer foreigners are coming to Canada than was the case in 2019, Canadians are more eager than ever to travel by air.

Statistics Canada counted 1,083,605 Canadians who returned from abroad by commercial aircraft that landed at airports with PIKs in November (excluding Pearson airport's Terminal 1). That is 3.9 per cent more than the 1,043,126 Canadians who arrived at those airports in November 2019.

When it comes to cross-border travel by vehicle, however, Canadians are following the same trend as Americans – travelling less. Statistics Counted 1,690,490 Canadians who returned from the U.S. at land borders equipped with PIKs last month. That is 11.2 per cent less than the 1,903,741 Canadians who returned from those trips in November 2019.

The trend of this travel catching up to 2019 levels has also reversed as the numbers were stronger in October.

"In November 2023, the recovery rate of Canadian-resident return trips by automobile was 88.8 per cent of the 1.9 million trips observed in the same month in 2019," Statistics Canada said, referring to a rounded-off figure. "This was lower than the 90.6 per cent recovery rate posted in October 2023."

The Vancouver Airport Authority (VAA) has forecast that passenger volume at Vancouver International Airport this winter will exceed that seen in 2019

The airport authority said it anticipates 4,289,753 passengers to either board or disembark flights at YVR between Dec. 22 and Feb. 27, up more than 1.6 per cent from 4,220,317 such passengers during the same dates in the 2019-2020 winter season.

The return to pre-pandemic levels has been steady. In September, the VAA said passenger volume was within one per cent of where it was pre-pandemic. In July, the VAA forecast that its passenger volume in July, August and September would be about nearly 7.9 per cent lower than it was in 2019

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