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Canadian Travel Press
Issue Date: Aug 21, 2017
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Transborder contradictions

Mike Dunbar

The bad news: Transborder travel in both directions declined in May. The good news: Both the north and southbound high-value air travel segments remained in growth mode.
According to figures released by the US Department of Commerce’s travel and tourism office, the total number of Canadian overnight border-hops declined 6% compared with May 2016, while overnight travel in the opposite direction was marginally down 0.3%.
As far as Canada-US travel was concerned, the major culprit was the drive market, which sagged a full 10.8%. At two-thirds the size of the land component, the air travel volume partially offset the wheeled slump courtesy of a 2% boost in demand, which has been trending positively for 11 of the past 12 months.
Department economist Mark Brown pointed out, “With visitor volume from Canada to the USA down 6% in May, it lowered the 2017 year-to-date performance to +4.7% and raised the 12-month rolling average from +0.2% to +0.5%.”
And he explained, “These seemingly contradictory performances are due to the 2017 monthly results being compared to very large double-digit declines in January through April 2016 but to a smaller 7.8% decline in May versus the previous year.”
Overnight stays by northbound air travellers rose 5.3% in May, following a 12.1% jump the previous month. The air segment has displayed consistent growth since April 2014 apart from a minor negative blip in February this year. With a relatively high spend profile that spells good news for Canada’s receptive tourism industry.
On a year-to-date basis to the end of May, Canada welcomed 2.4 million US-originating overnight drive visitors, 1.5 million air passengers and 58,000 seaborne arrivals but those numbers brought the YTD total to +1.3% – considerably down from the 10% growth rate for the previous two year period as a whole.