Major Events, Economy Fuel Canadian Tourism


Canada’s tourism industry will strengthen in 2015 as an increased number of visitors attend major international sporting events held across the country and global economic conditions continue to improve, according to The Conference Board of Canada’s Travel Markets Outlook: Autumn 2014.

“The improved tourism outlook for 2015 comes from major events hosted in Canada such as the Pan Am games, the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the World Junior Hockey Championships, which are expected to attract additional visitors,” said Greg Hermus, associate director, Canadian Tourism Research, The Conference Board of Canada. “The stronger US economy and a weaker Canadian dollar will also provide additional fuel to tourism growth.”

The Travel Market Outlook reports provide a forecast of tourism activity in Canada, the provinces, Yukon, and nine Canadian cities. Overall, overnight visits to and within Canada are expected to increase by 2.7% in 2015, up from 1.9% in 2014.

Improved economic conditions in the US and a weaker Canadian dollar are expected to boost overnight visits from American travellers by 3.5% in 2015. However, the report cautions that, while growth in overnight US visitors is expected to increase over the next three years, they will remain well below the levels seen a decade ago. In particular, the number of US travellers crossing the border to Canada by car is expected to increase modestly over the short to medium term.

Increased travel from emerging markets, such as China, India and Mexico will offset weakness in European visits and will be Canada’s main source of visitor growth. In fact, arrivals from Chinese travellers are on track to increase by 24.5% this year and a further 17% in 2015. Overall, overseas visits are expected to increase 4.1% in 2015.

Regional highlights:

  • Domestic travel to Newfoundland and Labrador moderated in 2014 along with slower economic growth in the province. Meanwhile, visits from overseas are expected to expand by more than 10 per cent, in part due to increased direct flights from Europe.
  • Prince Edward Island saw a boost in visitors in 2014 thanks to the more than 150 events celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference. The opening of the new Prince Edward Island Convention Centre in 2013 will continue to draw an increased number of business travellers to the province.
  • Led by growth in business travel, domestic overnight visits to Nova Scotia are projected to expand by 1.6% cent this year.
  • New Brunswick took a big hit in the number of US arrivals by ship as Carnival Cruises cut its service to Saint John.
  • The opening of the new Quebec City Amphitheatre and the Winter World Masters Games in early 2015 will draw visitors to the city and new flights out of the Quebec City airport servicing the natural resource sector should help boost business travel.
  • Events such as the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the World Junior Hockey Championships next year will boost pleasure travel to Montreal in 2015.
  • Visits to Ottawa-Gatineau are expected to grow by at modest 1.4% in 2014. Travel is expected to pick up over the next few years as the region plays host to FIFA Women’s World Cup matches and in 2017 will host many of the events associated with the 150th anniversary of Confederation.
  • Tourism in Canada’s largest city, Toronto, is expected to post healthy growth over the next few years. In particular, hosting the Pan Am Games in 2015 and 2016 NBA All-Star Game should attract many visitors to the city.
  • Overnight visits to and within Manitoba are expected to increase by 2.5% this year, supported by strong gains from domestic travel and by overseas visits.
  • Saskatchewan will continue to attract tourists, thanks in part to the addition of a new stadium at Regina’s Evraz Place, the construction of new hotels, and the opening of the Remai Art Gallery.
  • Calgary’s strong economic growth in 2014 will propel travel activity back into high gear, with total overnight visits rising by 3.5%. Overseas arrivals are projected to increase by 7.3%, while travel from the US is poised for a 3.7% growth.
  • Domestic pleasure travel to Edmonton will rise close to 3% this year and is forecast to post even stronger growth over the next two years as the city hosts a number of international sports events.
  • Overnight travel to Vancouver is positioned to increase by 4.1% in 2014. Business travel – in particular, convention-related travel – rebounded sharply this year and is projected to continue to post strong growth in 2015.
  • Visits to Yukon from overseas tourists are on track to increase by 8.8% this year, citing growing demands for tours of the Northern Lights.