A US-Canada border crossing in Quebec in 2017 (Don Emmert)

No, 75% of Canadians did not stop going to the US because of the trade war

Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

Since US President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, there have been sporadic calls for a Canadian boycott of American products and holiday destinations. These unofficial boycotts led to an article asserting that 75 percent of Canadians stopped going to the US. The report is based on a poll of travel intentions, and there were actually more Canadian border crossings in June 2018 than in June 2017.

Amidst heated trade negotiations and talks of a trade war with their southern neighbor, a July 9 headline on Canadian news website MTL Blog reported, “75% of Canadians Have Stopped Travelling To The U.S. Because Of Trump’s Trade War.” The article has since been shared thousands of times, including in several large Canadian and US Facebook groups.

The numbers that the Montreal blog referred to come from a poll by Canadian pollster Nanos taken for The Globe and Mail and CTV News. The poll asked 1,000 Canadians about their intentions to avoid US destinations this summer. To this, 57 percent of respondents answered that they were “likely to stop or cut back travel to the US,” while 16 percent of respondents declared they were “somewhat likely” to do so.

Those intentions did not bear out when compared to actual border crossings.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) shared numbers with AFP indicating that more Canadians travelled to the US in June 2018 than June 2017. A total of 3,230,777 Canadian citizens crossed the land border in June 2018, compared to 2,940,442 Canadian citizens the year before.

While complete numbers for July are not yet available, CBP told AFP there were 2,954,675 border crossers from July 1 to July 27, compared to 3,668,969 in July 2017. Even without the final weekend of July, this drop in crossings is only 19 percent, not 75 percent as reported.

While some Canadians certainly struck the US from their vacation destination list this summer, this does not reflect a general trend.

Brigitte Bélanger-Warner, a Canadian working for the Virginia Tourism Corporation, told AFP that “although numbers are not in yet, key spots for Canadians in Virginia, such as Virginia Beach, have not seen a drop in reservations. For now there really is no trend.”

Overall, the boycott largely remained isolated to an online hashtag as it was not promoted by Canadian institutions or politicians.