Majority (64%) of Canadians Not Comfortable Travelling Abroad Until At Least 2022; 17% Say They Will Never Feel Comfortable

Eight in Ten (83%) Approve of New Travel Rules for Entering Canada; Low Sympathy for Travellers Already Abroad and Snowbirds

The author(s)

  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs
  • Chris Chhim Senior Account Manager, Public Affairs
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Toronto, ON, February 22, 2021 – With vaccine roll-out well underway around the world, many are starting to see the light at the end of a nearly year-long tunnel. As Canadians dare to imagine what post-lockdown life may look like, it is clear that this vision does not include international travel until at least 2022, according to a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Global News.

With Canada having closed its borders to non-essential travel for the greater part of a year and recently implementing stricter requirements for those looking to enter Canada, stir-crazy Canadians experiencing wanderlust as well as those reliant on the country’s travel and tourism industry are left wondering when Canadians might start to feel comfortable travelling abroad again.


Resumption of International Travel Not Anticipated Until 2022

Those banking on a quick recovery for international travel this year may be disappointed; very few say they would be comfortable travelling internationally at this time, with only 3% saying they’d be willing to go abroad right now. Furthermore, it seems that we can expect many Canadians to look domestically for summer vacations this year as only 10% say they’d feel comfortable travelling to another country between now and this fall. Just under 2 in 10 (18%) say they would be comfortable going abroad before the end of this year, which is when the government says it plans to have vaccinated everyone who wants to receive the vaccine. Men are more likely than women to say they’d be willing to leave the country at some point this year (24% v. 16%).

What is more likely is that international travel will start to pick up next year. Just under four in ten (37%) Canadians say they’d feel comfortable leaving the country in 2022 (though this means anytime between January and December 2022). Men are more likely than women to say they’d feel comfortable travelling abroad in 2022 (41% v. 32%). Another 27% would prefer to wait a little longer (i.e. until 2023 or later) before feeling comfortable travelling abroad. This means that almost two-thirds (64%) of Canadians would not be comfortable leaving Canada until 2022 or later.

Furthermore, 2 in 10 (17%) say they’ll never feel comfortable travelling abroad. Younger Canadians are less likely to say so (8% of 18-34-year-olds v. 19% of 35-54 year-olds and 21% of 55+ year-olds). Women are more likely than men to say that they’ll never feel comfortable travelling abroad (21% v. 11%).


High Support for Travel Restrictions; Should Have Been Implemented Long Ago

A major reason behind Canadians’ unease with travelling internationally at this time is certainly the government’s recently tightened travel rules acting as intended -- a strong disincentive to non-essential international travel during a global pandemic. However, a large majority (83%) of Canadians agree (47% strongly/36% somewhat) that they support these rules, which include pre-testing, testing upon arrival, and a mandatory hotel quarantine at the traveler’s own expense. Three-quarters (74%) of those aged 18-34 agree they support the new rules, which is a proportion that increases even more among those aged 35-54 (84%) and 55+ (89%).

The strengthened measures enjoy particularly strong support in Atlantic Canada, where almost two-thirds (63%) ‘strongly agree’ with these measures. Even if Canadians generally agree they support the new travel rules, those in the Prairies show a little less agreement with the rest of the country; three in ten (29%) in Saskatchewan/Manitoba disagree with the rules (with 20% saying they ‘strongly disagree’) while 15% of those in Alberta also say they ‘strongly disagree’.

Despite some criticism that the new travel rules are too stringent and excessive, Canadians largely reject that point of view; over three-quarters (77%) disagree (44% strongly/33% somewhat) with that sentiment. Although younger Canadians are a little less likely to disagree than older ones, the fact remains that fewer than two-thirds (66%) of those aged 18-34 years disagree that the new rules are excessive (v. 76% among 35-54 year-olds and 87% among 55+ year-olds). In fact, nine in ten (90%) believe that the government should have enacted this plan months ago and a similar proportion (86%) think that the government should do everything it can to discourage leisure travel.


Weaker Support for Accommodating Snowbirds and Canadians Already Abroad

As the new rules came into effect, questions remained over the fairness of subjecting Canadians who had already left the country to new rules that did not even exist when they left. Those abroad expecting to rely on a well of sympathy from their fellow Canadians may be left wanting; only four in ten (41%) agree (10% strongly/31% somewhat) that the new rules should make exceptions for Canadians who are already abroad, though younger Canadians are slightly more sympathetic (52% among 18-34 year-olds).

Weaker still is the level of sympathy for snowbirds who travel to second homes or longer-term rentals in places like Florida, Arizona, and Mexico; three in ten (31%) agree (8% strongly/24% somewhat) that we need to be more supportive of these Canadians choosing to head south to enjoy a sunnier climate. Interestingly, those aged 55+ are most likely to say they ‘strongly disagree’ with the idea of being more supportive of snowbirds (40% v. 37% among 35-54 year-olds and 29% among 18-34 year-olds), suggesting that even older Canadians are divided amongst themselves over how much support should be given to snowbirds willingly leaving the country for seemingly non-essential reasons.


About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between February 8-10, 2021, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,000 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online. Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to census parameters. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18+ been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Darrell Bricker
CEO, Ipsos Global Public Affairs
+1 416 324 2001
[email protected]


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The author(s)

  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs
  • Chris Chhim Senior Account Manager, Public Affairs