A new report suggests that as Canadians approached the end of the year, a considerable number of them spent their holiday outside of the country.
According to Statistics Canada, residents made more than 5 million trips to other countries in the month of December, a 1.5 per cent increase when compared with the previous month. That marks the first time in nearly 18 years that monthly travel was in excess of 5 million.
While Canadians' travel was not confined to one part of the world, most of those who left the country headed south, as 2.5 million ventured to the United States by car. That's up 4.2 per cent compared to November and the highest monthly rate since May 1998, the source indicated.
Still others travelled to the U.S. by air or rail. When all sources of transportation were accounted for, travel by Canadians rose just 2.2 per cent, offset by fewer residents opting for overnight travel by plane, Statistics Canada noted.
Meanwhile, as more residents were leaving the country as 2011 came to a close, those heading to Canada increased moderately. Statistics Canada reports that travel to Canada rose 0.6 per cent in December, or what amounts to approximately 2 million trips. Residents from both the U.S. and those living abroad increased their presence.
From the U.S. specifically, travel rose 0.5 per cent, totaling 1.6 million trips. This largely stemmed from more American residents opting to travel to Canada through same-day car trips - 599,000 - more than any other month last year, the report found.
As for overseas residents, their travel to Canada increased by 1.3 per cent, the report noted. The 398,000 trips by overseas travellers marks the highest level recorded since the early fall of 2008. Furthermore, of all the countries where travel increased the most, India topped them all, rising more than 12 per cent, the highest level from the country since 1972 when record-keeping began.
Meanwhile, the largest monthly dip came from the Netherlands, falling nearly 8 per cent, Statistics Canada found.
Overall, 2011 was an active travel season both to and from Canada. However, according to Minster of State Maxime Bernier, 2012 may be even more prolific, especially for those coming to the country.
"Canada is well positioned to compete internationally and continues to gain recognition as a premier tourist destination," said Bernier late last year at the Tourism Industry Association of Canada's Hall of Fame luncheon. "The recently launched Federal Tourism Strategy outlines how our government is working to be an effective partner with industry to strengthen Canada's position on the world stage, creating jobs and economic growth in every region across the country."
He added that Canada has received heightened attention from travel organizations, as Atlantic Canada's Bay of Fundy was named a premiere destination to visit in 2012 by Frommer's international travel guide.