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Canada’s tourism activity in May well below pre-pandemic levels: Statistics Canada

OTTAWA — Tourism activity in Canada leading up to the summer was well below levels reached in May 2019, reports Statistics Canada.

According to new data from the Canadian Tourism Activity Tracker, May’s tourism activity in Canada was 68.9% below that of May 2019, which was down even more than April (-66.3%). The decline is attributed to continued border closures into May and a full month of tighter restrictions in some provinces as they combatted a third wave of COVID-19.

Domestic activity (ie. from the contribution of Canadians) was down 55.8% in Canada in May, while inbound activity (ie. from the contribution of international visitors) was down a staggering 93.8%.

In several provinces, including Ontario and Quebec, business closings along with restrictions on the size of gatherings were in effect during the entire month of May. The Canada-U.S. border remained closed for non-essential travel throughout May, plus additional requirements for international air travellers such as testing upon arrival and the mandatory hotel stopover further dissuaded international travel.

The federal government has since announced that the Canada-U.S. border will reopen to fully vaccinated American travellers on Aug. 9. Fully vaccinated travellers from any country will be allowed entry nearly a month later on Sept. 9. Also effective Aug. 9, the three-night government authorized hotel stay requirement will be eliminated for all travellers arriving by air. 

Statistics Canada also reports that in December 2020, overall tourism activity was down by 61.6% compared with the same month in 2019. In 2021, tourism activity began to drop further as provincial restrictions and closures were enacted to combat regional outbreaks and new variants of COVID-19. A temporary reopening in many provinces during March provided a brief reprieve before additional lockdowns took place in April and into May.

Tourism activity varied from province to province. Levels in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia were down over two-thirds from pre-pandemic levels of May 2019. Meanwhile, some provinces fared relatively better in May compared to the same month in 2019, including Newfoundland and Labrador (-50.8%) and Saskatchewan (-54.3%).

To access the Canadian Tourism Activity Tracker click here.