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Canada to See Strong Increase in International Tourists in 2018

Ottawa, July 10, 2018—On the heels of solid growth in 2017, overseas visits to Canada are projected to increase by 6.7 per cent to reach over 9 million visitors this year, according to The Conference Board of Canada’s latest Travel Markets Outlook reports.

“Overseas visits to Canada are expected to increase from all continents, with the highest growth coming from Mexico and China,” said Greg Hermus, Associate Director for The Conference Board of Canada’s Canadian Tourism Research Institute.

Travel from China is expected to get a boost from the Canada-China Year of Tourism, while Canada continues to see growth in Mexican tourists following the lifting of visa requirements for travellers from Mexico in December 2016. Overnight visits from the U.S. will be held back slightly by high gas prices, but are still projected to increase by a solid 3.4 per cent. In all, tourism activity in Canada is poised to expand by 2.6 per cent in 2018.

Regional Highlights

On top of the strong gains experienced last year, tourism will continue to grow in the ten Canadian cities covered in the Travel Markets Outlook: Metropolitan Focus. Vancouver will have the strongest growth in overnight visits this year at 4.3 per cent.

Growth in overnight visits to nine Canadian cities in 2018


2018 is expected to be another strong year for tourism in Vancouver. The city will host a number of high-profile sporting and cultural events. At the same time, convention activity is expected to reach an all time high this year. Visits from overseas will also get a boost this year thanks to 2018 being the Canada-China Year of Tourism. In all, over 8 million tourists are expected to visit Vancouver.


Overnight visits to Edmonton are forecast to grow by 2.9 per cent, boosted by attractions such as the new and expanded Royal Alberta Museum and a recovering provincial economy supporting business travel.


Close to 3.9 million tourists are forecast to visit Calgary this year as pleasure travel gets a lift from sporting events such as the FINA Diving Grand Prix and business travel benefits from higher oil prices and a recovering provincial economy.


Tourism activity in Winnipeg should get a boost from the media exposure created by the Jets’ Stanley Cup playoff run and hosting of the Canadian Ringette Championship this year. Overnight visits to the city are forecast to increase 3.0 per cent this year.

St. Catharines–Niagara

Despite high gas prices, the opening of new attractions and hosting of sport events will help increase overnight visits to the St. Catharines-Niagara region by 2.8 per cent this year.


On the heels of a strong tourism year in 2017, an estimated 14.8 million tourists are expected to visit Toronto this year, an increase of 3.5 per cent from 2017. The Raptors’ playoff run and recommendation by Travel + Leisure magazine will help raise the city’s profile this year. Meanwhile, new direct flights to the city will provide a boost for international visits this year.


Tourism activity in Ottawa is expected to ease this year following the phenomenal gains in 2017. However, the volume of visitors will remain elevated thanks in large part to new facilities and the exposure created by the Canada 150 events last year.


Overnight visits to Montréal are expected to grow at a more modest pace of 2.3 per cent in 2018. The opening of new attractions, last year’s exposure of the 375th anniversary, and new direct flights will help attract visitors to the city this year.

Québec City

Tourism activity in Québec City will receive a boost from the Charlevoix tourist region, which recently hosted the G7 Summit. Meanwhile, pleasure travel will be spurred by enhanced tourist infrastructure and events surrounding the 125th anniversary of the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac. Overall, overnight visits are expected to expand by 2.8 per cent in 2018.


Close to two million tourists are expected to visit Halifax in 2018, an increase of 3.2 per cent from last year. The city recently made it onto TripAdvisor’s list of Top 10 tourist destinations on the rise around the world and this is expected to raise Halifax’s profile and help attract more overnight visitors.

The Travel Markets Outlook: National Focus and Travel Markets Outlook: Metropolitan Focus are available from our e-Library.

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