Travellers from B.C. and Canada are choosing to stay closer to home thanks to the rising cost of living and funds needed to travel.
Domestic travel within Canada outpaced pre-COVID-19 levels, while travel overseas and to the U.S. remains below the rate seen prior to the pandemic in the second quarter of 2023, according to a Nov. 24 Statistics Canada study.
Canadians took 70.2 million domestic trips in the second quarter of 2023, an increase of 5.2 million compared to the second quarter of 2022 and 4.7 per cent more than the same quarter in 2019, according to Statistics Canada.
Individuals hoping to travel in the second and third quarter of 2023 had to grapple with overseas flight costs of $1,700 to $2,500 per person, according to Thomas Panos, senior director at Vancouver-based Omega Travel Service.
“That's a lot of money for a family of four,” he said. “What ended up happening is that a lot of people decided that this year they're going to stay closer to home, spend less money on transportation and more money on accommodation and that's where the domestic market really picks up.”
Domestic travel by Canadian residents accounted for 89.6 per cent of all travel in the second quarter of 2023. Domestic travel accounted for 87.1 per cent of travel at the same time in 2019, noted the data collection agency.
Canadians spent $17.7 billion on domestic travel in the second quarter of this year, up 2.6 per cent compared to the same time in 2022 and up 29 per cent from the second quarter of 2019.
The top three expenses for travel were accommodation, vehicle operations and spending in restaurants or bars.
As B.C. residents and the rest of Canada grapple with higher interest rates, rising cost of living and an inflationary environment, they are choosing to forego expensive vacations. As a result, not only is domestic travel increasing but travel to the U.S. is exceeding 2022 levels.
“That's probably going to continue to next year, simply because more and more people are having their mortgages reset. With that comes justified financial anxiety and people will then decide, ‘Well, we're not going to spend our money on holidays this year, we're going to have to pare down what our expectations are,’” Panos said.
Canadians took 6.1 million trips to the U.S. in the second quarter of 2023, up from 4.0 million trips taken during the same quarter in 2022 and under the 7.3 million trips taken during the same quarter in 2019, according to Statistics Canada.
“There are tons of locations in Canada where people will just drive over the border for the day or a few days and then come back. And that is considered as being tourism, where they're not spending nearly as much money as previously,” Panos said.
For those who are stomaching the cost of overseas travel, the top three destinations in the second quarter of 2023 are Mexico, France and the Dominican Republic.
Canadian residents returned from 2.0 million trips overseas in the second quarter of this year, up from the 1.7 million trips taken during the same time in 2022 and below the 2.6 million trips for the same time in 2019.