Tourism in Canada

With gorgeous Rocky Mountain scenery, ancient rainforests and exotic northern wildlife, Canada has long been a destination for tourists looking for a rugged outdoor experience. In recent years, that tourism has become more accessible to families and casual tourists who may want a Canadian experience without having to stray far from the beaten path.

Canada has also seen an increase in tourism from emerging Asian markets. As a nation that celebrates its cultural diversity, Canada has many communities of people from China, India, Viet Nam, and the Philippines. The presence of these communities encourages tourism from their parent countries, especially from older visitors who may hesitate to visit other countries due to language barriers. China is the fastest growing Canadian tourism market, experiencing an eighteen percent increase in visitors over the past year.

Tourism has become a cornerstone of the Canadian economy and is the fourth largest export industry, bringing in over eighty billion dollars per year. This accounts for two percent of Canada's gross domestic product -- more than all the revenue from Canadian farming and forestry combined. Six hundred thousand people are employed by the one hundred thousand small businesses that service tourists to Canada.

Canada is a vast country that is divided into several geographic zones. As such, Canadian vacations often centre on the journey more than the destination. Plans to visit Canada often start by choosing a travel method within the country.

The Road Trip is perhaps the quintessential Canadian vacation experience. European tourists in particular enjoy visiting British Columbia on the west coast and hiring recreational vehicles. These RV's are equipped with sleeping quarters, kitchens and bathrooms and the tourists can travel through the country uninhibited by schedules or the need to find a hotel. Canada has ample numbers of roadside campgrounds where visitors can stop for the night, cook their meals, and go hiking. As travellers journey around the province, they are usually able to see bears, deer, and big horn sheep from their vehicles.

Canada has an incredible national and provincial park system. These wildlife areas are full of natural wonders such as old-growth forests, hot springs, canyons and scenic viewpoints. Usually, parks have trails that are easy to walk, as well as longer and more arduous trails for the skilled backpacker.

Canada also is also home to millions of lakes and canoeing is a national sport. Canoes and life jackets can be rented and most lakes with road access also have boat launch areas. In eastern Canada, many people still go on Portage. Portage trips last for several days and are a combination of canoeing, backpacking and camping. Portaging traces its historic routes back to the original fur traders that populated and explored the country.

Glacier cruises are a luxurious means of experiencing Canadian beauty. Cruise ships leave Vancouver and Victoria to take visitors up the coastline to the amazing glaciers further north. The cruises last several days and along the way, visitors are in site of the country's amazing coastline. The mainland's forests and mountains provide a beautiful backdrop to the hundreds of smaller islands that the cruise ships travel through.

The Great Lakes area is home the famous Niagara Falls and receives millions of visitors every year. This natural wonder was formed as glaciers retreated during the last ice age and boats will take visitors for a close view of the horse-shoe shaped falls.

Montreal and Toronto are both known for their shopping and fashions. Visitors will find haute couture in those city's downtown districts, as well as traditional Canadian woollen garments.