North

StatsCan data reveals top tourism spenders in the 3 territories

For the first time, Statistics Canada can tell you how much each country spends on tourism in the territories — and the answers may surprise you.

Chinese tourism spending in territories below national average in third quarter of 2018

The third quarter of 2018 is the first time Statistics Canada has produced detailed local spending data om foreign tourism. (Kristian Binder)

For the first time, Statistics Canada can tell you how much countries spend on tourism in the territories — and the answers may surprise you.

While travellers from the United States spent the most of any country, German residents spent $12 million on trips to Yukon, N.W.T., and Nunavut alone in the third quarter of 2018.

The bulk of that money was spent in the Yukon, where one in five dollars spent by an overseas tourist — a traveller not from the United States — was spent by a German resident.

"Germans are prolific travellers," said Robin Anderson, global marketing manager at Tourism Yukon. "They're mountain people, and they absolutely adore places like the Yukon … anywhere where there's mountains and space."

The period included in the data covers July, August, and September. It's the peak season for German tourism in the North.

Travellers from the United Kingdom spent $8 million on visits to the North, the second most of any overseas country. China, Japan, and Australia tied for third place, each spending $7 million.

On a per-trip basis, overseas visitors spend more than three times the average amount spent by U.S. visitors in Canada, according to data.

Statistics Canada produced the spending estimates based on international credit card and debit card spending data. The aggregated data is provided by Destination Canada and combined with traveller surveys to produce detailed local data on where tourists' dollars were spent.

Though the survey has existed since the beginning of 2018, the third quarter is the first time they've produced numbers on estimated spending at the regional level.

"We're really happy to see Stats Canada enhancing the kinds of data they collect related to tourism," Mike Westwick, a spokesperson for the N.W.T. Department of Industry, Tourism and Infrastructure, said in an email.

"More information is always better."

Arctic Colour Tours is a travel operator that caters specifically to Chinese tourists in Yukon. Chinese tourism spending in the territory is well below the national average. (Steve Hossack/CBC)

Compared to other regions in Canada, spending by visitors from Germany, Australia and Japan is disproportionately high in the territories.

In Nunavut, Australians account for almost eight per cent of all foreign tourist spending in the territory — more than double the national amount.

In the N.W.T., Japan and South Korea over-performed, contributing 12 per cent of foreign tourist spending in the third quarter of 2018. India accounted for just over four per cent of total tourist spending the N.W.T.

"It's good to see that many segments are performing well," said Westwick.

"India is also a bright spot that's good to see reflected in the numbers."

Chinese spending lags behind national average

By contrast, Chinese spending in the North lags behind the national average.

Chinese residents spent just under $7.3 million in the three territories in the third quarter, or 4.4 per cent of foreign tourist spending.

2.7 million trips were made by overseas travellers in the third quarter of 2018 — a record high.

Across Canada, China accounted for eight per cent of foreign tourist spending, driven by high spending in urban centres like Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver.

Statistics Canada says Chinese visitors spend the most per trip across Canada of any overseas traveller — an estimated $2,400 per visit — though Australian and German residents are close behind.

But only one out of every $40 spent by a foreign tourist in the Yukon is spent by a Chinese resident, according to data.

Tourism Yukon's Anderson says on average, Chinese travellers to the territory "have less disposable income … for travel, and so they tend to look for more budget-conscious programming."

Anderson said Yukon's marketing strategy hopes to attract fewer, higher paying Chinese tourists, instead of large volumes of middle-class travellers.

"Our typical Chinese visitor, and the ones that we're targeting, tends to be slightly higher-end," said Anderson.

Record year for foreign visitors

The third quarter of 2018 sets new records for overseas visits to Canada.

Overall, foreign tourists spent $164.9 million in the territories — only 2 per cent of total foreign travel spending across Canada.

Overseas travellers made 2.7 million trips in Canada — the highest number "since modern record-keeping began in 1972," reads Statistics Canada's release.

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