Ottawa, December 15, 2015—The weaker loonie and lower gas prices convinced Canadians to vacation closer to home this year and this trend is expected to continue in 2016. Following an increase of 2.8 per cent this year, overnight travel within Canada is expected to grow by another 2.4 per cent in 2016, according to The Conference Board of Canada’s latest Travel Markets Outlook for both national and metropolitan cities.
- Overnight visits to and within Canada are expected to increase by 2.4 per cent in 2016, thanks largely to lower gas prices and a weaker Canadian dollar.
- The strengthening U.S. economy and a more favourable exchange rate are expected to contribute to a 3.3 per cent growth in overnight travel from the U.S. next year.
- However, the pace of Canada’s tourism growth in 2016 will be dampened by higher travel prices and financial concerns among consumers and businesses.
- Halifax, Québec City, Montréal, Ottawa-Gatineau, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver will all attract more visitors in 2016.
“The weaker Canadian dollar has helped make Canadian travel destinations more price competitive for both Canadians and those travellers from abroad, particularly Americans. At the same time, lower gas prices are reducing the costs of road trips,” said Greg Hermus, Associate Director for The Conference Board of Canada’s Canadian Tourism Research Institute. “Canada will see more overnight visits from domestic and international travellers but the pace of growth in Canada’s tourism will be slowed by economic and financial concerns among consumers and businesses.”
Overnight travel from the U.S. is estimated to have increased by 7 per cent this year—the strongest growth since 1998. The outlook will continue to be favourable, as a stronger U.S. economy and an advantageous exchange rate are expected to boost overnight visits in 2016 year by 3.3 per cent. Similarly, overseas arrivals to Canada are projected to increase by an additional 4.8 per cent next year, following growth of 5.3 per cent this year.
Travel prices in Canada are forecasted to increase going forward. Overall, travel prices are anticipated to rise by 2.4 per cent next year. In particular, travellers will pay 2.8 per cent more for accommodations, 2.6 per cent more for transportation and 2.5 per cent more for food and beverage services.
Of the nine Canadian cities covered in the Travel Markets Outlook’s Metropolitan Focus, most can count on tourism growth of between 3 and 2 per cent next year. Vancouver will be the standout with overnight visits expect to increase by 3.4 per cent in 2016.
Overnight visits should grow 2.5 per cent in 2016, in line with strengthening economic growth. Domestic travel will post an increase of 2.2 per cent next year, supported by solid gains in business travel. Business travel to the city should get a boost with the completion of the mixed-use King’s Wharf waterfront project.
Overnight travel to the city is expected to increase by 2.6 per cent in 2016, thanks in part to strong gains in international visits. Most notably, overnight visits from the U.S. are projected to increase by 3.6 per cent , while overseas arrivals are projected to increase 4.2 per cent.
Overnight visits to the city are projects to post a healthy 2.9 per cent in 2016, spurred on by stronger growth in business travel and international visits.
Ottawa is set to host the Canadian men’s curling championship, which will help boost pleasure travel to the city. Overall, visits to the Nation’s Capital should increase 2.4 per cent next year.
With the weak Canadian dollar and low gasoline prices, U.S. visits to Toronto are set to rise by 7.2 per cent this year and continue to increase by 3.2 per cent in 2016. In addition, thanks to convention activity and the hosting of major sport events like next year’s NBA All-Star Game, the CFL Grey Cup, and the World Cup of Hockey, overnight visits to the city should continue to post solid growth for the next few years.
Overnight visits to Winnipeg are expected to grow by 2.9 per cent in 2016. Over the medium term infrastructure projects, such as the RBC Convention Centre expansion, should help attract additional business events and out-of-town delegates.
Economic activity in Calgary took a hit from the dramatic decline in oil prices and this weakness is a key factor behind the estimated 7.3 per cent decline in business travel to the city this year. As the local economy improves next year, so too will the prospects for stronger tourism growth. In 2016, domestic business and pleasure travel are expected to grow by 2.4 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively.
The decline in economic growth in Edmonton this year has taken a serious bite out of business travel. Next year, business travel should recover with a modest gain of 1.8 per cent. The opening of the Rogers Place Arena in 2016 should also help boost overnight visitors to Edmonton.
Following a strong tourism year, Vancouver should see another 3.4 per cent growth in visits in 2016, boosted from the opening of the Trump International Hotel and the World Rugby Sevens Series tournament. These gains will come from overseas (5.2 per cent), U.S. (3.3 per cent) and domestic (2.7 per cent) travellers.
The Travel Markets Outlook: National Focus provides a forecast for Canada’s tourism industry and in each of the 10 provinces and Yukon. The companion publication, Metropolitan Focus: Tourism Insights for Select Metropolitan Areas, provides a tourism forecast for nine Canadian cities. Both are available on our e-Library.