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Best year ever for Canadian tourism!

Best year ever for Canadian tourism!

Canada welcomed a record breaking 20.8 million tourists in 2017, the highest ever in Canadian history.

The preliminary data, released today 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.


“Canadians are known the world over for our generosity, inclusiveness and warm hospitality. And thanks to the leadership of our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, more and more travelers from around the world want to visit. Throughout 2017, I had the privilege to meet with many amazing tourism operators and I would hear so many great stories about the growth in this vital sector. I am proud of the fact that we welcomed more than 20.8 million visitors to our beautiful country last year—a new record. However, I know that we are only just beginning. Looking to the future, I am excited for what is still to come. As we celebrate the Canada-China Year of Tourism this year, I am certain that the good news will only continue. I am looking forward to many more great months and years ahead.”

– The Honorable Bardish Chagger, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

“Canada 150 provided Canadians with a unique opportunity to come together to reflect on our past and inspire a vision of a vibrant and inclusive future. I’m thrilled that people from around the globe took the opportunity to visit Canada and join with us in celebration of this milestone year.”

—The Honorable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage

Quick facts

• Tourism is a vital component of Canada’s economy, representing 2 percent of our GDP and is an important source of jobs, a driver of entrepreneurship and the largest employer of youth.

• Canada’s New Tourism Vision is a 20-point, government-wide plan to grow Canada’s tourism sector. It sets out the goal of growing international visitation to Canada by 30 percent and doubling visitation from China by 2021.

• The Government has been delivering this vision through actions such as lifting the visa requirement for Mexican nationals as well as facilitating the temporary entry of low-risk travelers, including business visitors.

• The Government of Canada has implemented visa changes for key international markets by introducing the electronic travel authorization (eTA) and has opened seven new visa application centers in China.

• The 2018 Canada-China Year of Tourism is an opportunity to showcase Canada’s tourism sector to the Chinese market to meet the 2021 target and to benefit from this important market for years to come.

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