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Canada Market Profile

Nearly 20 years after Visit California opened its Canada office, California’s North American neighbor remains a formative force in California’s tourism economy. The United States is the top travel destination for Canadians by far, and California is easily the country’s most-visited state. Canadian travelers are continuously drawn back to California, where an abundance of unique offerings fosters myriad repeat visitation opportunities.


  • Higher annual proportions of overseas travel from Canadians are expected to continue in the short term
  • Californians’ enviable work-life balance and perceived laid-back attitude appeals to Canadian travelers
  • Canadian travelers desire more personalized and authentic experiences that offer self-fulfillment

  • Sightseeing, shopping, beach, nature and culture are trip motivators
  • Canada is the sixth-largest market for top spenders in the luxury segment driven by the 45-55-and-over demographic
  • 93 percent of Canadians prefer memorable experiences to possessions

Canada Profile

1.6 Million
In-Person Trips, 2017
$2.2 Billion
Visitor Spending, 2017

Market Conditions

GDP Annual Growth Rate

After a steady period of economic decline and uncertainty, Canada’s economy has shown strong growth in 2017 and while moderating, is expected to continue this trend into 2018. In the second quarter of 2017, consumer spending, business investment and government spending are all providing the momentum that should see above-potential growth continue through the rest of 2017. Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected to grow by 3.1 percent in 2017 and 2.2 percent in 2018. In 2017, this will place Canada near, if not at, the top of all G7 countries. The continued momentum in the economy saw the Bank of Canada significantly change its assessment of the state of the economy in mid-June, leading it to raise interest rates for the first time in nearly seven years. The central bank’s new upbeat outlook brought another rate increase in September 2017, and it is expected that the bank will reduce policy stimulus further in the quarters ahead.

Exchange Rate

  • 1 Canadian Dollar Equals 0.81 U.S. Dollar
  • The Canadian dollar, while still lower than the U.S. dollar, has risen significantly throughout 2017, with some analysts predicting it will reach 87 cents in 2018.

Travel & Planning Methodologies


  • 381 weekly nonstop flights
  • 52,067 weekly nonstop seats
  • 80%+ load factor
  • May 1: Air Canada will launch daily SFO-Edmonton flights
  • May 17: Air Canada will launch daily Sacramento-Vancouver flights.


  • The time a Canadian will begin the planning phase differs depending on how the destination is being reached (i.e. car, short-haul air, long-haul air).
    • Trips involving air travel are researched further in advance. Long-haul trips have the longest planning time, with more than 43 percent beginning research at least six months in advance.
    • Planning for short-haul trips typically takes place closer to departure, with 71 percent planning up to six months in advance.
    • Destinations reached by car have the shortest planning phase, with 57 percent of Canadians planning their trip less than three months away from departure.
    • Airfare is booked closer to departure date (six months ahead or less).

Market Barriers & Risk Factors

Competitive Landscape

For travelers seeking certain amenities or attractions, select cities continue to be of most interest:



Other Market Insights


  • California continues to be a top desired destination for Canadians.
  • In 2016, California welcomed an estimated 1.5 million Canadian visitors, who spent an estimated $2.04 billion. In 2016, California was the fourth largest market for Canadian travelers, capturing 8.4 percent of Canadians traveling to the United States, behind Florida, New York and Washington.
  • California is expected to benefit from strong demand from younger travelers as well as significant increases in connecting traffic destined for Asia-Pacific destinations.
  • Canadians value family time, and travel with family, even when traveling internationally, which is by far the most popular vacation type. 46 percent of respondents had taken a family vacation internationally in the past 24 months, followed by beach getaways and romantic-themed vacations.
  • Canadians are year-round travelers to California and travel throughout the year/multiple seasons:
    • 39 percent of Canadians are more likely to take a trip in the first six months of the year, versus 37 percent doing so within the last six months.
    • 22 percent reported having no preference.
    • Canadians aged 65 and older are more likely to travel during the winter months (January-March), while those under 65 are more likely to travel during the summer months (July-September).


  • Canadian leisure travelers are looking for beaches, historical sites, outdoor recreational activities, shopping, culinary/wine and museums.


  • The Canadian consumer isn’t showing signs of slowing down and is poised to remain the key driver of growth in 2017. While consumer spending will likely lessen somewhat in 2018, business investment continues its significant turnaround. Investment spending is expected to add growth in every quarter this year, and will likely remain an important driver of the economy in 2018.
  • Above all else, the primary emotional motivators for international travel by Canadians are the chance to rest and relax, and to have new experiences.



  • Royal Bank of Canada
  • The Conference Board of Canada
  • OECD
  • Nielsen
  • Statistics Canada
  • Skift
  • Development Counsellors International
  • DIIO
  • CIC Research, Inc.
  • Carat CCS
  • StatsCan