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Canada’s tourism sector heading into 2022

By Rob Roach, ATB Economics 13 December 2021 1 min read

It’s no secret that the tourism sector has been hit extremely hard by the pandemic, but recent images of hoards of holiday travellers at airports may leave the impression that things are back to normal. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

The number of non-resident air travellers landing in Canada* illustrates the situation. As the chart below shows:

1) The flow of visitors flying into Canada during the first year of the pandemic was reduced to a mere trickle. Arrivals of non-residents at Canadian airports equipped with Primary Inspection Kiosks (PIKs) numbered just 20,600 in November 2020 (the green line on the chart) compared to 408,600 the year before (the blue line).


2) Things have gotten better with about 156,000 non-resident travellers landing at Canadian airports with PIKs in November 2021 (the red line).

3) “Better,” however, is not the same as “back to normal.” The opening of Canada's borders to fully vaccinated international travellers has helped the situation, but arrivals are still far below where they were before COVID-19 entered the picture.

Whether it’s visitors flying in or Americans crossing the land border, Canadian businesses that rely on international traffic are still anxiously awaiting the numbers to return to pre-pandemic levels.

*Counts of travellers entering the country by air are from the Primary Inspection Kiosk (PIK) system and represent a subset of arrivals by air. Visitors flying into Terminal 1 at Toronto’s Pearson airport are not included because it did not have Primary Inspection Kiosks until 2021.

Answer to the previous trivia question: According to the World Bank, China’s population passed the 1 billion mark in 1982.

Today’s trivia question: The Airbus A380 is considered to be the largest passenger plane. What is its maximum certified capacity?

Arrivals by air are still far below where they were before COVID-19 entered the picture

Arrivals by air are still far below where they were before COVID-19 entered the picture


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