Despite an advisory against non-essential travel outside Canada and a mandatory 14-day quarantine period, there was a significant increase in the number of Canadians returning from abroad in December when compared to the previous month.
According to data released by Statistics Canada on Tuesday, over 170,700 Canadians flew home from abroad in December, up by one-third (+33.7%) from November.
The number of Canadians returning from the United States by plane increased 14.7% from November to 54,500.
Car arrivals, which accounted for about three-quarters of these trips totaled 271,100 from the United States in December. Of these, 177,200 were same-day trips.
However the number of travellers from overseas (countries other than the United States) to Canada declined 91.8% year over year to 40,400 in December, the report stated.
Overall international travel to and from Canada also declined from 96.8 million travellers in 2019 to 25.9 million in 2020, the agency said.
After the implementation of border restrictions to combat COVID-19 in March 2020, the impact on international travel was immediate, with the number of international travellers falling to a record low 614,000 in April, down 92.0% from the same month a year earlier.
While travel has edged up each month since this low, it remained far below 2019 levels.
The number of travellers from overseas (countries other than the United States) to Canada declined 91.8% year over year to 40,400 in December.
Travel originating from Europe (-91.5%) and Asia (-90.4%), Canada’s largest markets, was down significantly compared with the same month in 2019. Travel from other major markets also remained low throughout December.
Ontario (-203,600), British Columbia (-143,000) and Quebec (-84,700) had the largest absolute year-over-year declines in the number of overseas travellers in December, StatCan reported.