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Tourism shot up in 2022, but still far short of pre-pandemic levels: StatCan

For the full year, national tourism spending jumped by 45 per cent
People make their way along the waterfront in downtown Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, Aug 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Spending on tourism continued to grow last year as travellers returned to planes and patios, but it remained well below pre-pandemic levels, according to Statistics Canada.

Tourism expenditures between October and December rose for the seventh consecutive quarter as the last of the COVID restrictions on travel lifted, increasing by 2.1 per cent from the third quarter to $20.1 billion, the agency said in a report Thursday.

For the full year, tourism spending jumped 45 per cent to $74.4 billion as domestic and international travel roared back. Spending on air travel tripled year over year, comprising the biggest chunk of overall spending at $15.5 billion or 21 per cent.

However, spending for the full year still sat more than a fifth below 2019 levels, which neared $95 billion.

Domestic spending on tourist activities dipped between the third and fourth quarter, but purchases from foreign visitors more than made up the difference with a leap of 17.5 per cent. Spending by Canadian residents still comprised nearly three-quarters of the total, Statistics Canada said.

Tourism sustained 657,400 jobs in the fourth quarter, 1.5 per cent more than the quarter before. Accommodations, along with food and beverage services and recreation and entertainment, were the biggest contributors to the boost in jobs. They also made up the top three areas of tourist spending.

Overall, tourism’s economic output amounted to almost 83 per cent of its pre-pandemic level versus nearly 71 per cent a year earlier. Its share of Canada’s gross domestic product inched up to 1.58 per cent in the fourth quarter, the agency said.

READ MORE: Canadian tourism sector shrank by nearly half in 2020 as COVID-19 ravages industry