With severe winter weather across North America prompting airlines to cancel thousands of flights, leaving countless people stranded, airports may feel more congested today than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic virtually halted air travel.
New Statistics Canada data for October, however, shows that international travel to Canada from non-resident visitors and returning Canadians was only 74.8 per cent of what it was pre-pandemic.
October was the first month in the COVID-19 era to have no Canadian travel restrictions, putting monthly comparisons on a level playing field.
All COVID-19 border restrictions, including vaccination, mandatory use of the ArriveCAN app as well as all testing and quarantine requirements, were removed for all travellers entering Canada by land, air, or sea as of Oct. 1.
Non-American international visitors made more than twice the number of trips to Canada in October (367,000) than they did in October 2021, but only about 64.5 per cent of the number of trips that they made in October 2019.
U.S. residents took 1.4 million trips to Canada in October 2022 – nearly three times the number taken in October 2021, and 74.8 per cent of the number taken in October 2019, before the pandemic.
Canadian residents returned from 3.3 million trips abroad in October 2022. That was close to four times the number of trips taken in October 2021, and was 76.1 per cent of the number of trips taken in October 2019.
Outside the U.S., the biggest source of international visitors to Canada was the U.K., with around 57,000, followed by France, with around 54,000. The visitor count then drops off significantly, to Mexico, with around 30,000 visitors.
Statistics Canada did not today break down its October visitor numbers to say how many arrived in Canada through B.C. entry points, so the most recent data for that is from September.
Data for that month shows that B.C. lags the rest of Canada in attracting back visitors, compared with 2019.
In September, total U.S. and other international overnight visitors to Canada through B.C. entry points was 375,595. That was up 232.1 per cent from 2021, but down 42.7 per cent from 2019.
In contrast, total U.S. and other international overnight visitors to Canada through all entry points in September was 1,488,429, which is up 181.2 per cent from 2021, but down a smaller 33.5 per cent from 2019.
Outside the U.S., the biggest sources of international visitors to B.C. in September were the U.K. (22,669), Australia (15,136) and Germany (10,862).
The country that by far is sending fewer international visitors to B.C.., compared wiith pre-pandemic months, is China, where restrictions on leaving the country remain.
B.C. received 4,631 Chinese nationals in September, which is 95.2 per cent below the number in 2021, and 88.9 per cent below the number in 2019.