Canadian travel to U.S. drops, while overseas visits to Canada surge to highest May ever
Visits from Asia and Mexico jumped in May, Statistics Canada reports
Canadians are making fewer trips to the United States, and foreign appetite for travel in Canada has hit its highest May on record.
Statistics Canada reported Thursday that Canadians made 3.2 million trips to the United States in May, down almost eight per cent from April's level and nearly six per cent lower than the same month a year ago.
Car trips to the U.S. were sharply lower, down to 2.5 million during the month, which is the lowest figure seen for that month since 2003.
Some of the blame for that can be traced to the value of the loonie, which was hovering around 73 cents for much of the month. In May 2003, the loonie was at a similar level of 72 cents US, the data agency noted. It has since jumped to more than 79 cents.
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Canadians may have by and large stayed home in May, but the same can't be said of foreigners with regard to Canada. Overseas visitors — that is, not from the U.S. — made 544,000 trips to Canada in May, up almost 10 per cent from last year's level.
"The number of overseas residents travelling to Canada has risen every year since 2009 and in May 2017 reached its highest level for the month of May since modern record keeping began in 1972," the data agency said.
Canada welcomed 190,000 travellers from Asia in May, up 14 per cent since last year and the highest May figure on record. Travel from Mexico increased by 75 per cent from last year's level, with 32,532 visitors during the month.
Travel from Europe, however declined by 10.9 per cent, particularly from the U.K. (down 10.8 per cent) and Germany (down 14 per cent.)
U.S. citizens also made fewer trips to Canada in May, down 3.1 per cent from April at 2 million visits. While a drop from April's level, the five-month period of January-to-May has seen about the same level of U.S. visitors to Canada as in 2016.
But that, too, bucks a recent trend, as U.S. travel to Canada grew by eight per cent in 2015 and about the same amount in 2016 before reaching a plateau this year.