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Canadian Visitation Trends

Destination Canada publishes a monthly snapshot of overall tourism. It is a great source of data and is good for seeing trends. Like many statistical reports, the trade-off is timeliness. Generally, there is a two to three month lag, which really isn’t too much of a problem for long term planning.

may tourism stats


So, what do May results reveal?

  1. U.S. visitation continues to grow.  Six percent growth may not seem a lot compared to the 15% growth in Chinese visitors, but the U.S. market is still the largest by far.
  2. Chinese growth is strong.  Chinese visitation is expected to continue. Travel Alberta has been holding “China Ready” workshops to prepare tourism groups.
  3. Air capacity from India has grown significantly.  With air capacity up 53.2%, this signals an opportunity, and implies that visitation from India is likely to continue its upward trend.

Market Your Business to Attract Tourists

To make this information useful to your business, you may need to ask a few more questions.

  • Can your staff speak multiple languages?  It might be a good time to note this on your website or promotions, and/or advertising in non-English media.
  • Are you ensuring US visitors can easily find your business using search terms or key words they relate to?
  • Do you have a solid presence on tourism websites such as Travel Alberta?
  • If US visitors are arriving by car, do you have adequate signage to direct highway traffic to your business?

And Keep Looking for Better Tourism Information…

In addition, you should keep looking for more information on these important trends. You may want to know:

  • How many of the U.S. visitors arrive via car vs. plane. Knowing this is especially important if you live near the border.
  • Where additional flights from India are landing, to help determine whether this is a market that you want to target. If your business is based in northern Alberta and the major arrivals hubs are Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary, this increase may not be an opportunity.
  • What other countries are bringing tourists to your area. Consider visiting one of more of these countries to learn how you can tailor your offering better to their needs and expectations.

Here are some great sources for more information:

The take away… 

The real insights from these statistics come from each business’ assessment of what it means to their market. How do these trends relate to your business?


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About the Author - Ginny Holtby
Ginny is an experienced marketing consultant and strategist. She was a member of the senior management team at Banff & Lake Louise Tourism and played a leadership role in developing their five-year strategy and revenue forecast. Ginny has a deep understanding of the global tourism landscape and is always curious about evolving tourism trends and innovations. With a B.A. from McGill University and an M.B.A. from the University of Alberta, Ginny has provided strategic consulting services for over a decade. While consulting, she also taught Marketing and Business Economics part time in the School of Business at the University of Alberta for eight years.