Canadian visits to Britain pass 1M for the first time ever

More Canadians are visiting Britain – and spending – than ever before, according to the latest official statistics highlighted by Britain’s national tourism agency, VisitBritain.

Canada’s appetite for travel to Britain is surging with more than 1 million Canadian (1,003,000) visits in 2023, up 12 per cent over 2022 and an increase of 15 per cent since 2019, the year before the pandemic.

Canadian visits have also delivered a record spend of £970 million pounds ($1.7 billion CAD), up four per cent from 2022 and an increase of 32 per cent since 2019, according to data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Strong ties to Britain

Britain and Canada share strong ancestral ties. Visiting friends and relatives continued to leads in terms of volume of visits from the Canadian market. In 2023, VFR represented 43 per cent of trips, with holidays sat slightly second with 40 per cent. The holiday market represented a higher spend (47 per cent) versus VFR (35 per cent).

While overall spend from the Canadian market is up 12 per cent over 2022, spend per visit decreased slightly to £966 per visit in 2023, from £1,042 per night in 2022. Average length of stay for inbound Canadian travellers in 2023 is 10 nights, 2.3 nights higher than the global average of 7.7 nights.

“We are thrilled to see these record-breaking results from Canada. It’s clear that demand for Britain continues to build with Canadians travelling to England, Scotland and Wales throughout the year,” said executive vice president, The Americas, Australia, and New Zealand. “Our ‘See Britain Differently’ campaign continues to encourage visitors to explore beyond Britain’s famous landmarks to experience a more unexpected side of Britain through our arts and culture, food and drink and cities and countryside.”

“So excited that Canada has smashed that ‘magic million’ for visits to Britain. Together with our dedicated travel trade partners, we will continue to build demand and convert inspiration into bookings through our ‘See Things Differently’ campaign,” said VisitBritain director for Canada, Cathy Stapells. “Delivering more buzz for Britain is a focus on screen tourism and we continue to highlight the wealth of amazing film and TV locations to be visited throughout Britain.”

Global ONS highlights

  • Overall, Britain continues to build back strongly from the pandemic. In 2023, the UK welcomed 38 million inbound visits. Visits were below pre-pandemic levels (2019) by seven per cent but were up 21 per cent vs 2022.
  • Inbound visitors spent a record £31.1 billion pounds during 2023, up nine per cent vs. 2019 and up 17 per cent vs 2022. Taking inflation into account, visitor spend was down 10 per cent vs. 2019 and up nine per cent vs. 2022.
  • Overall, 292.9 million nights were spent in the UK in 2023, up one per cent vs 2019 and up 11 per cent vs. 2022. The average spend per visit (SPV) by inbound visitors was £819 per visit in 2023, up 18 per cent vs. 2019 but down three per centvs 2022. In real terms, SPV was down three per cent vs 2019 and down 10 per cent vs 2022.
  • Visitors stayed an average of 7.7 nights in 2023, which has been decreasing since 2021 but remains above 2019 (7.1 nights).
  • Average spend per night was £106 in 2023, up eight per cent vs 2019 and up five per cent vs. 2022. In real terms, SPN was down 11 per cent vs 2019 and down two per cent vs 2022.

VisitBritain’s latest forecast for 2024 projects that this year Britain will welcome 38.7 million inbound visits and £32.5 billion spend, 95 per cvent and 114 per cent of the 2019 levels respectively, although spend would be 92 per cent of 2019 in real terms, when adjusting for inflation.

When compared to 2023, this would represent growth of 2% in visits and 5% in nominal spend (two per cent in real spend).