Most Canadians Say They Will Not Travel This Year: Leger Survey

Family Beach Vacation57% of Canadians say they won’t cross the border until next year. And 19%  say they’ll never feel comfortable travelling in the States.

The results of a new survey indicate that Canada’s travel agency community has longer – much longer – to wait for gains in business to materialize.

Canadian polling firm Leger, in collaboration with the Canadian Press, surveyed over 1500 Canadians and over a thousand Americans earlier this month about summer vacation plans, and Open Jaw obtained the findings report.

Not surprisingly, it revealed that Americans are much more willing to travel than Canadians this summer.

Even so, the results are sobering to anyone in the travel industry in Canada.

Plans for Summer Vacation Travel in 2021

The majority – 54% – of Canadian respondents say they are ‘unlikely’ to vacation this summer, with 31% saying they are ‘very unlikely’ to do so.

(It’s cold comfort that the findings are better than last year’s results, during the first wave of the pandemic, when 72% said they were unlikely to take a 2020 summer vacation.)

In 2021’s survey, only 15% said they were ‘very likely’ to travel for a summer vacation.

Atlantic Canada came in as the most ‘unlikely’ at 62%, while Albertans ‘very likely’ to take a summer vacation is the highest in Canada – 9% above average at 24%.

Canadians v. Americans:

Nearly a quarter – 23% – of American respondents said they were ‘very likely’ to take a summer vacation this year, 8% more than Canadians.

41% of Americans’ are overall ‘likely’ (somewhat likely plus very likely) to vacation this summer. That’s 10 points higher than the ‘total likely’ Canadians to travel in the next few months, which came in at only 31%.

On the flip side, only 38% of Americans were overall ‘unlikely’ to take a trip this summer, compared to Canada’s 54%.

Staying Close to Home

For Canadians who did say they were ‘likely’ or ‘somewhat likely’ to take a summer vacation in 2021, the overwhelming majority – 63% – said it would take the form of “day trips locally where I live.”

That was followed by trips within their province, trips within Canada, and finally with equal numbers of respondents saying they plan to travel to the U.S. or internationally – 10% in both cases (travel restrictions notwithstanding).

Ontarians were the most ‘likely’ to report they’re planning on U.S. (15%) or international (13%) travel.

And B.C. residents were most ‘likely’ to travel locally – 74% said their summer vacation would involve day trips.

Canadians v. Americans:

These results contrast with Americans who say they’re planning to travel this summer.

Compared to the 63% of Canadians who say they’ll stick to local day trips, only 56% of Americans plan to do so.

The largest category of planned summer vacations this year for American respondents was travel to other states, just edging out day trips as the most preferred summer vacation by 1% at 57%.

Although more Americans plan to travel this summer, fewer Americans than Canadians plan to leave the country.

Only 7% of U.S. respondents say they plan to travel to Canada (compared with 10% of Canadians who say they’ll go to the States), and 9% plan to travel internationally (10% of Canadians planning to travel this summer are planning to go to international destinations.)

Cross-Border Travel

When asked when they’ll feel comfortable travelling in the U.S. again, 2022 was the clear winner, with 57% of Canadians saying they won’t cross the border until next year. It’s unclear how much current travel restrictions/ border closures factored into those results.

Interestingly, the next highest category – 19% – of Canadians say they’ll NEVER feel comfortable travelling in the States.

Canada’s Western provinces are the most likely to say they’ll wait until next year, and a whopping 34% of respondents in Canada’s Atlantic provinces – 15% higher than the national average – say they’ll ‘never’ feel comfortable visiting the U.S.

Canadians v. Americans:

16% of Americans said they’d come to Canada right now, but more Americans than Canadians: 24% v 19% also said they’ll ‘never’ feel comfortable travelling to their northern neighbour.

Travel Styles

The survey also asked all respondents what kinds of vacation activities they’d feel most comfortable with “once the Coronavirus pandemic has ended”.

Road trips topped the list at 69%, whereas flying came in at 36%.

Camping was the preferred style of travel with 58% support, followed by a hotel or resort stay at 48%, cruising at 20% and vacation rental or timeshare at 19%.

Canadians v. Americans:

Canadians and Americans favoured driving equally, with 69% of respondents from both countries saying they’ll be taking a road trip.

After that, the two countries diverge. When it comes to hotels/ resorts, flying, cruising, and vacation rentals, nearly 10% more Americans than Canadians say they’re comfortable with those activities.


Lynn Elmhirst

With a background in broadcast news and travel lifestyles TV production, Lynn is just as comfortable behind or in front of the camera as she is slinging words into compelling stories at her laptop. Having been called a multi-media ‘content charmer’, Lynn’s other claim to fame is the ability to work 24/7, forgoing sleep until the job is done. Documented proof exists in a picture of Lynn at the closing celebrations of an intense week, standing, champagne in hand - sound asleep. That’s our kind of gal.

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