Visa Report Indicates Increase in Tourism Spend in Canada

    International visitors spend more than $9 billion in Canada; Tourism
    Opportunity for Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games

    SAN FRANCISCO, April 16 /CNW/ - Despite pressures on the global economy,
international tourists in Canada spent US$300 million(1) more with their Visa
cards in 2008 than they did in 2007, according to data released today by Visa
Inc. (NYSE:  V).
    In 2008, international visitors to Canada spent more than $9 billion on
their Visa-branded payment cards, helping to make international tourism spend
amount to approximately two per cent of Canada's overall GDP(2). In comparison
to 2007, this spend has increased 7.3 per cent or US$8.7 billion. U.S.
cardholders contributed more than half of the total and visitors from Western
Europe, Asia and Australia accounted for an additional 23 per cent of Visa
card spending.
    "While the survey results show that Visa cardholders from the U.S. were
the greatest contributors to Canadian tourist revenues last year(1), Canada's
popularity as a tourism destination stretches beyond North America(3)," said
Tim Wilson, Head of Visa Canada. "People from around the world confidently use
their Visa cards when travelling in Canada and in countries abroad because of
Visa's convenience and security."
    Canada's popularity as a tourism destination stretches to all corners of
the world: 2008 saw increased Visa card spending by visitors from Eastern
Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Africa. This year-over-year growth
underscores the growing stature of Canada as a tourism destination for world
travellers. The survey found that international interest in visiting Canada in
the future is high, with nearly three out of four survey respondents reporting
they are likely to visit Canada in the future. The strongest interest comes
from Mexico, the U.S., China and Japan, and from those who have visited Canada

    The Olympic Opportunity

    With Canada hosting the Vancouver Games, the tourism industry is hopeful
for an even bigger boost in revenues. According to the Visa international
tourism survey, one in four respondents said they are likely to attend the
Vancouver Games and the majority of those visitors also plan to visit other
parts of Canada. International respondents reporting the strongest likelihood
of attending the Vancouver Games originated from Brazil (57 per cent), China
(52 per cent) and Mexico (34 per cent).
    "The Vancouver Games provide a strong opportunity to elevate Canada's
global visibility and attract increased tourism revenues," Wilson said.

    Where Visitors Come From

    Visitors from the United States continue to be the largest contributors
to tourism revenues. According to the Visa tourism survey, 60 per cent of U.S.
respondents have visited Canada at least once, compared to 19 per cent of all
respondents. In 2008, U.S. visitors spent $5.47 billion on Visa cards while
visiting Canada. Other top contributors to Canada inbound tourism spending in
2008 include: United Kingdom ($603 million); France ($351 million); Australia
($223 million); and Japan ($204 million).
    Where are international tourists spending their money while in Canada?
General retail purchases, such as clothing and food, represented 41 per cent
of Visa transactions by international travellers visiting Canada in 2008,
totaling more than $3.7 billion, an increase of more than seven per cent from
the previous year. Other major segments include lodging ($1.1B), business to
business ($648M), airlines ($628M) and restaurants ($467M).

    Canadians' Tourism Intentions Remain Strong

    Canadian tourism is a two-way street. Despite the current economic
uncertainty, Canadian respondents show strong propensity for international
travel over the coming two years - although they report they will take a more
frugal approach to their travel plans.
    The Visa international tourism survey, which polled payment cardholders
in Canada and ten other nations who have travelled internationally in the past
two years, found that a majority of respondents (64 per cent) are equally or
more willing to travel compared with one year ago. In fact, 68 per cent will
likely plan multiple international trips over the next 24 months. Top
anticipated trip destinations among Canadian survey respondents likely to
travel internationally in the next two years include: United States (65 per
cent); Caribbean (30 per cent); United Kingdom (21 per cent); Mexico (21 per
cent); and France (12 per cent)
    However, Canadian travellers are looking for ways to tighten their belt
while travelling. Fifty-one per cent indicate they will plan to travel
off-peak to take advantage of lower prices, 34 per cent will travel to
countries where the cost of visiting is less and 92 per cent will prefer
standard cost or economy class travel.

    Electronic Payment Preferred for International Travel

    Survey respondents expressed preference to use credit cards while
travelling abroad in the next year. Sixty-two per cent of Canadian respondents
prefer to use a credit card, while just 16 per cent prefer to pay with cash
and 11 per cent use traveller's cheques. Preferred payment methods were
selected largely based on three factors: convenience (76 per cent), ease of
accessing funds (51 per cent) and security (49 per cent).

    About the 2008 Canada Tourism Outlook

    For the Visa international tourism survey, 5,539 adult consumers aged 18+
were interviewed as part of an online panel survey hosted by GMI (Global
Market Insite, Inc). Fieldwork took place between December 11, 2008 and
January 8, 2009. During the research process, questions are posed to a panel
of consumers and data is collected until various predefined sampling quotas
are reached. The results are then analyzed and sig-tested at a 95 per cent
confidence level. For this summary, the main differences that are interesting
and statistically significant have been described accordingly.
    Visa cardholder spending data cited is based upon a review of tourism
spending on Visa-branded payment cards by international visitors from key
source countries while visiting Canada during the calendar years 2008 (January
1 - December 31, 2008) and 2007 (January 1 - December 31, 2007). These
findings are based upon VisaVue(R) Travel data. Visa introduced the VisaVue(R)
Travel tourism reports to the U.S. tourism industry in 2009 and offers it to a
broad audience of state and convention and visitors bureau destination
marketing entities.

    About Visa Inc.

    Visa Inc. operates the world's largest retail electronic payments network
providing processing services and payment product platforms. This includes
consumer credit, debit, prepaid and commercial payments, which are offered
under the Visa, Visa Electron, Interlink and PLUS brands. Visa enjoys
unsurpassed acceptance around the world, and Visa/PLUS is one of the world's
largest global ATM networks, offering cash access in local currency in more
than 170 countries. For more information, visit


    (1) All spending figures noted are in U.S. dollars
    (2) Canadian Tourism Commission
    (3) Visa Vue Travel Data, 2007-08

For further information:

For further information: Teri Broughton, Visa Canada, (416) 625-6713,

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