by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | February 25, 2019

Last year was a boon for Canadian tourism, with 21.13 million overseas visitors making their way to the Great White North, and marking the first time tourism arrivals have gone over the 21 million mark, with U.S. arrivals representing the greatest number of visitors, at some 14.44 million.

Overnight arrivals from countries other than the United States reached an all-time high of 6.7 million in 2018, totaling 32 percent of all arrivals. And there was year-over-year growth is key international markets, including China with 737,379 arrivals, a 6 percent increase over 2017. Arrivals from France totaled 604,166, up 5 percent over 2017, while arrivals from Mexico broke the 400,000 threshold for the first time. But it was inbound tourism from the U.S. that drove Canada's record breaking performance with the highest level recorded since 2004.

"These strong results reflect the passion and dedication of the thousands of Canadians who work in our tourism sector," said Ben Cowan-Dewar, chairperson of Destination Canada's board of directors, in a statement announcing the results. "Destination Canada has aligned industry partners across the country when marketing Canada internationally to give the nation a competitive edge and consistent voice to position Canada as top of mind for travellers from all over the world."

According to Destination Canada, the country's successful tourism year was due to a number of contributing factors, including increased marketing efforts, increased air lift and new routes to several Canadian airports, the implementation of visa changes for priority markets by introducing the five-year Electronic Traveland Authorization, which allows residents of 45 countries to enter Canada, as well as opening additional visa application centers in China, Canada's third-largest source market.