The return to normal travel is delayed, but not cancelled.

Just this week, the federal government announced plans to open our borders to international travelers, starting in August. This is one of the first signals we’ve seen about ‘post-pandemic’ travel, and a return to normal tourism. But as Canada opens its borders, how do Canadians themselves feel about traveling?

Earlier this month we asked Canadians how they feel about travel today, and when it will all feel back to business as usual. Here’s what we found.

For most of us, the pandemic is still impacting how we think about travel. Only one in five Canadians think travel that doesn’t feel like we are in a pandemic is possible. For the rest of us, the presence of hand sanitizer and the remnants of social distancing stickers on the floors aren’t quite reassuring us that we will be able to have a ‘normal’ vacation just yet.

This isn’t necessarily a problem for the 27% who say it still feels like a pandemic, but they are okay with it. However, the majority (54%) say this pandemic travel feeling has turned them off from travel for the time being.

The closer the destination, the earlier a return to normal is predicted. Naturally, we are more likely to say that travel within our region and even province will feel normal well before travel out of the country. Local provincial travel is likely to be the most popular kind of travel destination for the summer and upcoming travel season. By the end of the Summer, half say travel within our own region will be back to normal, and just under half say by this time travel to another region in the province will feel normal as well.

Comparatively, only 11% of us predict travel to the US will be back to normal by then, and even fewer for international travel (7%).

By province, Ontarians are the least optimistic about travel within their province this summer, perhaps due to the slow removal of COVID restrictions in the province preventing a sense of normalcy. Only 35% say travel to another region in the province will feel normal by the end of summer. That said, by the Fall comfort with province-wide travel is in line with those living in other provinces.

Having this sense of normalcy for travel is driving our travel plans. Among those who have intentions of travelling, few are comfortable making a trip out of the country until next year, another signal that travel within Canada, and even within one’s province will be popular for the rest of the year.

Half of Canadians with intentions to travel within their province will do so by the end of the summer.  For those with plans to travel to another province, it will take until the fall before half are comfortable making the trip.

Those in Atlantic Canada and Alberta are the most likely to be taking advantage of in province travel this summer, whether it be around their region, or to another region in the province. Those in Ontario are least likely to make a trip within the province this summer, but once Fall rolls around are just as likely to be making a trip within their home province. Again, the slow rollback of COVID restrictions and their role in feeling ‘normal’ are a likely factor.


According to Oksana Kishchuk: As COVID restrictions begin to lift across the country we can start to imagine a world without these additional rules and regulations. While we may feel comfortable getting back to other routines, travel is likely to take some time, especially travel outside the country.

International travel is still just a dream for most of us until next year, but local travel seems possible, and is already a reality for many. Those relying on Canadians travelling internationally will need to wait a few more months before Canadians are ready to return, but for those attracting tourists within their own provinces, there’s a few more travel seasons where Canadian travelers will be a captive (and likely eager) audience.

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Our survey was conducted online with 1,500 Canadians aged 18 and over from July 9th to 14th 2021. A random sample of panelists was invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.

The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

This poll was conducted and paid for by Abacus Data.


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