Cost and Politics are the Two Main Reasons: There is no disputing the fact that arrivals in the United States from Canada—it is the largest source market for international travelers to the USA—have fallen off this year. According to preliminary figures posted by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO/ Statistics Canada, arrivals were down by 3 percent, year-to-date for the first five months of the year vs. the tame period in 2018. But why?
Usually, travel marketers in the United States are left to wondering “Why?”—and trying to figure out the answer using anecdotal sources or partial information. But, thanks to XBorder Canada (XBC)—it is a new syndicated product produced by XBorder Research Group, a partnership between Travel Market Insights Inc. and DataPath Systems—there is a more definitive answer. In a survey conducted this past March and April in which XBC asked 19,848 Canadians that if they had traveled to the U.S. in the past 12 months, and if not, why not?
- Half (50 percent) of those who had not visited the U.S. indicated that the cost or price was too high, and they simply did not have the money to spend on travel to the U.S. Among those with concerns over the cost of travel:
—27 percent did not travel at all;
—73 percent did travel, but not to the USA; and
—Among those who did choose to travel, most stayed mainly within Canada (88 percent), while 13 percent went to Mexico/Caribbean, 7 percent went to Europe, and 6 percent went to India/Asia.
- The second primary reason for not coming to the U.S. in 2018 and early 2019 was “The Current Political Situation in the U.S.” Among those who chose not to visit the U.S., 30 percent indicated that the political situation in the U.S. had a major impact on that decision.
Those who are not visiting due to the current U.S. political situation are not limited to any single type of demographic group. Aside from being slightly older (49 percent are over the age of 54, compared to other non-visitors where 39 percent are over 54, and the population in general where 38 percent are over 54 years old), they cut across all demographic categories similar to the general population of Canada.
- Coming in a close third was the currency exchange rate. INBOUND suspects that it would have been a more significant reason at one point, after the Canadian dollar tumbled from a high of $1.05 against the U.S. dollar in July 2011 and fell all the way to $0.70 in January 2016, then crawled back to about $0.80 in May 2016 and has been at or near that level since then. Though still a factor for the 29 percent who said it was a reason not to travel to the USA, it seems as if most Canadians have learned how to deal with the stronger U.S. dollar.
The table below lays out all the key reasons given by Canadians who chose not to travel to the U.S. this year.
Q: You indicated that you did not travel to the United States. Please check any of the reasons below that had a major impact on your decision not to travel to the United States in 2018: