Tourism in Canada: Understanding Travel After COVID-19

May 25, 2020

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism industry has been effectively shut down, resulting in a deep and direct hit to airlines, hotels, tour operators, restaurants, and many other tourism-related businesses.

Provinces have started to initiate plans to relaunch the economy to return cities to a level of normalcy that has not existed since March. While we do not know the full extent of the impact that COVID-19 will have, we do know that its effects will be felt long after travel bans and social distancing measures end.

Tourism operators will face many questions in the coming months, and the answers to many of these questions are currently unknown. Travel will be impacted for months, if not years, to come.

We recently conducted a survey focused on travel and tourism among over 1,500 Canadians to understand:

  • How their 2020 travel plans were impacted by COVID-19;
  • Whether they are inclined to stay closer to home when travelling given COVID-19;
  • How comfortable they are with different modes of transportation;
  • The types of accommodation that will be included in potential travellers’ competitive sets.



Canadians will travel closer to home initially (specifically, following the removal of protective measures). As time passes, their comfort with travelling beyond their province increases.

There is an opportunity for the travel and tourism industry in Canada to shift marketing and communications campaigns, product development, etc. to attract regional and provincial travellers in the coming months. It will be increasingly important to understand the needs and behaviour of local travellers.


Canadians are less comfortable travelling internationally than domestically. Comfort with international travel appears to be heavily influenced by the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.


Driving Tourism

The majority of Canadians noted they’d be most comfortable going on a road trip following the removal of COVID-19 protective measures (in line with their desire to stay closer to home).

Four-in-ten Canadians (42%) would be comfortable going on a road trip within two months of the protective measures being lifted, with this number growing to 66% within six months. 

Travel by Bus

Canadians indicate low levels of comfort travelling by bus in the near future, suggesting that operators who rely on bus transportation may face additional challenges following the removal of travel bans.

Three-in-ten Canadians (29%) note that they would never feel comfortable travelling by bus moving forward. 

Domestic and International Flights

Canadians report higher levels of comfort when it comes to domestic flights, compared to international flights (although not in the immediate future). Most Canadians note that it would take seven months or more for them to be comfortable with travel that would require a domestic or international flight.

Cruise Ships

Canadian travellers reported greater hesitation when it comes to considering future travel on cruise ships.

27% will not travel on a cruise ship until there is a vaccine for COVID-19, and 40% indicated that they will never travel by cruise ship moving forward.



  • Web survey of 1,526 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, randomly recruited from the LEO online panel
  • Data were collected from May 1st to May 3rd, 2020
  • No margin of error can be associated with a non-probability sample (Web panel in this case). However, for comparative purposes, a probability sample of 1,526 respondents would have a margin of error of ±2.51%, 19 times out of 20.


We would be happy to provide you with the summary/overview of this study and discuss the key findings with you.

We can also help you design research studies focused on travel and tourism that are customized to fit your organization’s unique needs and budget.

Contact us today!

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