UK visitor numbers to Canada hit 83% of pre-pandemic levels

Visitor numbers from the UK to Canada reached 83% of 2019 levels last year, according to data from Destination Canada.

Spending also grew substantially in 2023, said the country’s national marketing organisation, sitting at 107% of 2019 levels.

The findings, which revealed UK travellers are seeking more authentic experiences and showing more interest in lesser-visited regions and rail travel, were unveiled at travel trade show Rendez-vous Canada in Edmonton.

Canada is expecting to welcome 881,000 visitors from the UK in 2025, when numbers are tipped to exceed 2019 visitor levels.

Speaking to Travel Weekly, Destination Canada UK managing director Rachel McQueen said the country’s “greatest hits” are helping to drive the growth of UK travellers back to Canada.

“Canada is, for many people, a bucket-list destination, and I think there’s a growing trend for UK travellers to be ticking those bucket-list destinations off sooner rather than later,” she said.

However, there has been an increase in interest for the lesser-visited regions and territories, such as Atlantic Canada, the Yukon and Nunavut, according to trends among the UK market that were presented at the event.

Multigenerational travel is also on the rise, McQueen noted, as well as rail and road travel in Canada.

“The Brits have started to take to RV driving, which is an interesting trend because it’s always been strong for Germany and the Netherlands,” she acknowledged. “It’s been less [of an interest] over the UK and we’re starting to see a real uptake in people wanting to book those motorhome holidays.”

There are also longer conversion times for UK visitors booking a trip to Canada, as McQueen said people “taking longer to consider their choices”.

“The economy is coming back, but it’s still not where it was, so people want to consider those purchase decisions,” she said, adding that having time to save up to both pay for the holiday and for spending money is “informing people’s decisions a little bit to book early too”.

Destination Canada’s agent training platform, the Canada Specialist Programme, recently unveiled a new rewards programme for agents who reach platinum level to be in with the chance of earning attraction passes.

“We’re still running our series of CSP webinars that people can sign up for, which really complements the content on the CSP programme,” McQueen said, adding: “And we still continue to do quite a lot of in-person training wherever we can.”

Destination Canada has also announced a new strategy that will help to see its tourism revenue grow by a further $20bn a year by 2030.

Next year’s Rendez-vous Canada will take place in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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