COVID-19 has drastically affected Canadian travel spending

Canadian tourism spending is projected to drop by $42 billion in 2020. Here’s a snapshot of COVID-19’s impact on travel and peoples’ vacation expectations.
Steve Brearton

In 2019, Canadians were passengers riding the tide of a decades-long global travel boom. In 2020, we are watching the world go by. Domestically, few sectors have been impacted as significantly as travel and tourism. In the weeks following the closure of Canadian regional economies, unemployment in Banff, Alta., was estimated at 80 to 85 per cent, while 5,000 jobs disappeared in Niagara Falls, Ont. Altogether, Canadian tourism spending is projected to drop by $42 billion—or 59 per cent—in 2020, shedding as many as 450,000 travel-supported jobs.

And while the spread of the coronavirus slows or stops in almost all of Canada, and regions and economies cautiously open up, tourism will continue to be disproportionately impacted. Canadian summer standards—road trips to the United States, European vacations, overnight camps for kids and city festivals—are all on hold. School may be out, but summer vacation will never completely arrive. Here, a snapshot of COVID-19’s impact on travel and the vacation expectations of Canadians.

Canadians planning to take their longest summer vacation within Canada

2019: 52%
2020: 65.6%

Number of trips lasting eight days or longer to Ontario’s cottage country, mid-March to late-April

2019: 18,893
2020: 36,426

Canadians planning to take one or more overnight trips this summer

2019: 79.3%

Deals, Deals, Deals

Airlines, hotels and travel booking firms are offering incentives for Canadians to entice them to travel again. Air Canada is offering a “book a flight and cruise” package with Norwegian Cruise Line, with $400 toward air travel as well as $100 off any vacation plan, for bookings made before July 12. is offering up to 15 per cent off hotel stays in various Canadian Cities for bookings made between March 10 and Jan. 4, and for stays between June 1 and Jan. 4. Sunwing has a “buy one, get one 50 per cent off” deal on vacation packages to Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America for travel before Sept. 20.

Sources: Destination Canada; Tourism Economics; Conference Board of Canada; Vanier Institute of the Family; Association for Canadian Studies; Abacus Data; Environics Analytics; International Air Transport Association; STR Canada; Hopper; Toronto Pearson International Airport