A record-breaking number of tourists are flocking to Canada.
New data from crown corporation Destination Canada show more than 21 million travelers visited Canada in 2018 — the second consecutive record-breaking year.
The data also show tourism creates 745,300 jobs and contributes $102.5 billion to the economy.
“The results released today once again demonstrate that tourism is a key part of the Canadian economy,” says Mélanie Joly, Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie.
“Canada’s tourism sector creates good jobs and supports middle-class families in every region of the country.”
Joly says her government is developing a new tourism strategy to help the sector reach its full potential.
A key highlight is overnight arrivals from countries other than the U.S. reached an all-time high of 6.7 million — or 32 per cent. Overseas tourists typically stay longer and provide a bigger boost to the economy by spending more money.
Destination Canada says factors that led to another record-breaking year include marketing efforts, new flight routes, and visa changes. Additional visa application centres in China led to a 6 per cent jump to a record-breaking 737,379 tourists coming to Canada.
France and Mexico also set new records with 604,166 and 404,402 respectively.
Americans came to Canada in droves too. Around 14 million visited in December alone — the most since 2004.
Japan and South Korea were outliers with 15 per cent and 16 per cent declines respectively in 2018. Destination Canada blamed economic uncertainty in the two countries.