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Canadians’ Perceptions of Domestic Travel


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Canadians’ Travel Preferences and Plans

Canadians’ most common preferences when travelling for leisure within their own country are for a good-value holiday focused on relaxation, often involving authentic local food and local culture and potentially including exposure to the natural world. They are relatively less concerned about combining work with leisure, high-end shopping or specialist activities. While a majority want to travel in high season, a significant proportion – nearly a third – would choose shoulder season for a trip within their own province. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, over half say they currently have an overnight leisure trip planned – although less than one in ten of these have actually booked.

How Canadians View Their Country as a Destination

Ontario and BC remain the destinations of choice for much domestic travel among Canadians, both in terms of past travel and future travel intentions. But the survey also reveals that Canadians’ views of much of their country is consistent, and highlights its important tourism assets – all Canada’s provinces and territories are viewed as naturally beautiful, and most are also seen as having lots to see and do, including for families. Conversely, Canadians tend not to view their country as refined or crowded, and most of the country is not seen as challenging.

The three territories are seen somewhat differently – they are appreciated for their unique culture and the new perspective on the world they afford, but are also viewed as more inaccessible. At present, the COVID-19 pandemic is cited as a barrier to travel for many, with Ontario and Quebec viewed as the riskiest provinces to visit in terms of COVID-19 infection risk.

Profile of Key Destinations

When travellers are asked about their interest in visiting specific destinations within their own province and neighbouring ones, the marquee tier 1 destinations tend still to attract most interest and to be well ahead of others – destinations such as Niagara Falls, Victoria, Banff, Montreal and Quebec City. But with significant minorities expressing interest in visiting tier 2 destinations such as Drumheller in Alberta, Regina in Saskatchewan, Gananoque in Ontario and Charlevoix in Quebec, this suggests that there is potential to grow tourism beyond the well-known andover-touristed centres.

Profile and Interest in Key Attractions

Asked to rate their awareness and interest in visiting attractions within their own and neighbouring provinces, a preference emerges for natural parks and cultural attractions, as well as those associated with destinations that already have a high profile and a significant pull, such as Vancouver, the Bay of Fundy or the Rocky Mountains. The findings suggest that there is some work to do to raise the profile both of key destinations and attractions within the three territories, which tend to be relatively little known.

Other Opportunities

The survey also reveals other possibilities for growing tourism in Canada. One promising area may be to promote attractions to people making day trips within their local area, one in three of whom say they currently combine functional visits for shopping with leisure activities.

It also reveals the potential for destinations to promote themselves to the 48% of Canadians open to temporary relocation.

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