December Saw Jump In International Travel to Canada: Ottawa

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December Saw Jump In International Travel to Canada: Ottawa
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, view of iconic Toronto skyline showing ferry boat arriving at Centre Island by day in fall season.
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Canada immigration news: The latest data from Statistics Canada reveals travel to Canada boomed in December last year compared to the number of people travelling into the country for the same month in 2020.

“Compared with December 2020, more than 10 times as many non-resident travellers arrived from abroad at Canadian airports equipped with electronic kiosks during December 2021,” the agency reports. 


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Despite that boom in international travel to Canada in December last year, travel volumes were still less than two-thirds the number of people who came to Canada in December 2019, the last year before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canada’s Open Borders Boost International Travel

Ottawa’s re-opening of the border allowed much of this increase in travel to Canada.

“By December 2021, Canada’s borders were open to all fully-vaccinated, non-resident travellers, with international flights permitted to land at 18 Canadian airports,” reports Statistics Canada. “And since early November, the U.S. land border was open to all fully-vaccinated Canadian travellers.”

But it’s not just Canadian travellers returning home that pushed up international travel to Canada numbers in December last year. 

There was also a spike in the number of non-residents coming to Canada. 

“Arrivals of non-residents from overseas countries (196,500) and the United States (156,400) at Canadian airports equipped with Primary Inspection Kiosks (PIKs) numbered 352,900 in December, up from 32,500 in December 2020,” noted Statistics Canada in a report entitled Leading Indicator Of International Arrivals To Canada, December 2021 and released today.

Visits to Canada by Americans also jumped in December last year but still remained below pre-pandemic levels.

“In December, U.S. residents took 291,600 trips to Canada in U.S.-licensed automobiles through 111 land ports equipped with the automated Integrated Primary Inspection Line (IPIL) application,” reports Statistics Canada. 

“While almost five times more than the 61,000 trips taken in December 2020, it remained less than one-third (29.8 per cent) of the 977,200 U.S. arrivals by car during the same month in 2019.”

In August last year, Canada re-opened five Canadian airports to international flights, bringing the number of airports open to international travel to 10, and then followed that up on Nov. 30 by opening up another eight airports to those travellers.

Border Re-Opening Came With Pandemic Apparently Under Control

At that time, prior to the latest wave of the Omicron variant-driven wave of COVID-19, Ottawa was hoping the pandemic was finally coming under control.

“The fourth wave seems to be coming under control in most parts of the country,” Chrystia Freeland, the country’s deputy prime minister and minister of finance, said at the time. “Our economy has rebounded and we are winning the fight.”

In its bid to rebuild its economy, Ottawa forged ahead with its commitment to immigration and the country welcomed a record-breaking number of newcomers, bursting through the goal of 401,000 ne permanent residents to Canada by the end of the year.

This year, Canada plans to welcome 411,000 new permanent residents and another 421,000 in 2023.

“Against all odds, we’ve managed to keep our immigration system working in the face of a once-in-a-century pandemic, while ensuring rigorous health protocols are in place and enforced,” said Alexander Cohen, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser’s press secretary.

Travellers To Canada Must Use ArriveCan App

Air travel to Canada and open borders are vitally important to Canada’s immigration strategy as the top five most important sources of new permanent residents to the country are India, China, the Philippines, Nigeria and France.

“All incoming travellers to Canada are required to present: a negative COVID-19 molecular test, to be performed in a country other than Canada, within 72 hours of their scheduled flight or arrival at the land border, or; proof of a positive test result received in the previous 14 to 180 days,” the federal government states on its website.

Travellers into Canada are also required to use the ArriveCAN app to provide mandatory travel information before and after their entry into Canada. 

“The mobile app is free and is available in English, French and Spanish (displayed in the language of your device). Download the latest version of ArriveCAN or click ‘update’ in your app store,” advises Ottawa.

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Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.