Research Reveals 4 Canadian Travel Trends for 2023

April 27, 2023

The results are in and in 2023 Canadian travelers are on the move more than ever, thanks in no small part to the lifting of pandemic-era restrictions. Development Counsellors International used this pivotal moment to generate original research for destinations and the organizations that represent them to help understand what Canadian travel trends are popular for 2023.

To do so, DCI surveyed 1,511 Canadian citizens from across the nation, including a diversity of provinces and income levels, to generate its third edition of “Capturing the Canadian Consumer: Insights into the Path to Purchase of the Canadian Travellers.” Following the 2020 edition, this newest version provides insight into the habits and preferences of outbound Canadian travelers along their “path to purchase” for international leisure travel.

This research is pivotal for destinations as 41 percent of Canadians say they are keen to book international getaways in the next 12 months. They rank higher than the global average of 30 percent, making Canadians an important market to target. You can get the report here, but first, here are four of the key Canadian travel trends DCI’s researchers uncovered.

1. Where Canadians Are Going
First and foremost, Canadians aren’t all looking to go far. In the last 18 months, most travelers booked short haul flights – primarily in the United States – and approximately 50 percent of those surveyed say they are considering traveling to North America while 40 percent are also looking to the Caribbean. Western Europe comes in third among 27 percent of respondents.

Canadians are spending more on this international travel, but only because airfare and costs have risen since 2020, so short-haul flights are a way to keep travel affordable, at least for the foreseeable future. Destinations within a short flight will want to take advantage of this trend and market to Canadians accordingly.

2. When Canadians are Going
Unlike previous studies, this new research supports the idea that Canadian travelers want to get out of Canada for the winter. Results show that 47 percent of travelers want to travel between January, up from 40 percent in 2020 and 2017, indicating a desire to seek warmer climates.

While snowbirds have been on destination’s radar for years, the results suggest that marketers broaden their scope when it comes to ages they target for winter travel, as younger people also are seeking a break from the cold.

3. What Canadians are Spending
Affluent Canadian travelers with incomes of at least CAN$200,000 on average spend 31 percent more per trip on their international leisure vacations than Canadians with incomes below CAN$200,000. While not surprising, it does reinforce the idea that destinations will want to target higher end Canadian travelers to help capture these bigger spenders.

Among less affluent travelers, however, the research also suggests they are relying more on loyalty programs and points to travel. Also, two thirds of travelers are considering travel insurance, indicating that budgets may be a bit tighter for the less affluent. Destinations must tap into the potential of these sorts of programs to help make sure they stay top of mind for travelers regardless of their budgets.

4. Where Canadians are Staying
During the pandemic, Airbnb and other vacation home rentals seemed to have a boom. The independence and isolation of a vacation rental was a draw during lockdowns – but no longer. Fortunately those days are over, and as in 2020, the numbers suggest that Canadians still opt for hotels and motels over vacation rentals for international travel.

When asked which type of accommodation was most appealing, 37 percent of Canadians – the largest portion – responded preferring a hotel or motel, down slightly from 39 percent in 2020. Private home rentals and resorts tied for second at 21 percent. Destinations and their partners marketing to Canadians must keep this in mind when creating packages and promotions for this niche but important market.

For more results and data, get your copy of DCI’s newest research report, “Capturing the Canadian Consumer: Insights into the Path to Purchase of the Canadian Travellers,” available now.

Looking to attract Canadian travelers this year? DCI’s research and marketing prowess knows exactly what this niche consumer segment wants. Get in touch with Robyn Domber at [email protected] to learn how DCI’s research team can help you create a better path to purchase by understanding these 2023 Canadian travel trends. 

Written by

Robyn Domber

Senior Vice President, Research