National Tourism Indicators (NTI)

Detailed information for second quarter 2017





Record number:


The National Tourism Indicators (NTI) provide timely information which facilitates ongoing monitoring and analysis of tourism and its related activities in Canada.

Data release - September 28, 2017


The National Tourism Indicators (NTI) provide timely information which facilitate ongoing monitoring and analysis of tourism and its related activities in Canada. The NTI cover the domestic supply of tourism commodities (such as transportation, accommodation, food & beverages, recreation & entertainment), the demand for these commodities by Canadian and foreign visitors, and the employment and GDP generated as a result of this demand. The NTI were developed to update the more comprehensive Canadian Tourism Satellite Account (CTSA) on a quarterly and annual basis.

The Indicators are available about 90 days after the reference quarter. The statistical tables include actual data and percentage changes. Unadjusted data are expressed at current prices while seasonally adjusted data are expressed at constant prices.

The NTI can be used in three general ways: (a) to assess the current state of tourism in Canada; (b) to analyze the development of tourism in Canada in terms of trends and structures; and (c) to support policy and strategic decisions. The Indicators show the relative importance of tourism markets in Canada, what percentage of activity is accounted for by each component of tourism demand, and which components are impacted the most from its growth or decline. The NTI can be used to support research on the trends, cycles and quarterly patterns in various tourism aspects or the industry as a whole. Comparisons can be drawn with other industries or the national economy. The NTI can also be used in the temporal analysis of relationships between different variables and the demand for or supply of tourism goods and services.

The data are used by various stakeholders in the field of tourism, e.g. federal and provincial government officials, researchers as well as by college and university professors and students. The data are also used by international organizations (OECD, World Tourism Organization), journalists and large businesses.

Statistical activity

The Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts (CSMA) provides a conceptually integrated framework of statistics for studying the state and behaviour of the Canadian economy. The accounts are centered on the measurement of activities associated with production of goods and services, the sales of goods and services in final markets, the supporting financial transactions, and the resulting wealth positions.

Collection period: 3 months after the reference quarter


  • Economic accounts
  • Tourism accounts
  • Tourism indicators
  • Travel and tourism

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The NTI cover the domestic supply of tourism commodities (such as transportation, accommodation, food & beverages, recreation & entertainment), the demand for these commodities by Canadian and foreign visitors, and the employment and GDP generated as a result of this demand. The definition of tourism in the NTI follows that adopted by the World Tourism Organization and the United Nations Statistical Commission: the activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for less than a year and for any main purpose (leisure, business or other personal purpose) other than to be employed by a resident entity in the country or place visited.

Instrument design

This methodology does not apply.

Data sources

Data are collected from other Statistics Canada surveys and/or other sources.

There are several main data sources for the NTI, all originating from Statistics Canada. The CTSA provides benchmark totals, in current dollars. The CTSA is a biennial product that was first published for reference year 1988.

For other years, the supply and use tables are used to calculate annual levels of tourism supply and GDP. Annual levels for employment are calculated using data from the Labour Productivity Database. Demand totals come from the Travel Survey of Residents of Canada (TSRC) and the International Travel Survey (ITS). For years in which supply and use tables are not available, the NTI are based on quarterly estimates of various indicators.

Quarterly indicators for tourism supply are based on selected components of consumer spending from the Income and Expenditure Accounts and on GDP for selected industries from the measures of monthly GDP by industry accounts. The quarterly tourism expenditure data follow quarterly patterns from the TSRC and the ITS. The quarterly tourism employment data are based on the Survey of Employment, Payroll and Hours (SEPH). Tourism GDP is calculated based on demand, supply and employment.

Error detection

This methodology type does not apply to this survey.


This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.


The indicators of supply, demand, GDP and employment are benchmarked to the CTSA levels and are estimated for the years preceding and following the benchmarks. Benchmarks are incorporated biennially.

The NTI supply indicators use results from Statistics Canada's supply and use tables, which are based on quarterly and annual surveys of industries and their revenues (production). For periods not covered by the most recent supply and use data the indicators are projected on the basis of: (i) results of selected industry surveys or employment surveys, (ii) personal consumption expenditures on items closely related to the tourism goods and services being estimated, or (iii) industry-specific production figures (GDP).

Once supply estimates have been calculated, total demand is obtained by using the ratio of demand to supply from the CTSA benchmarks. Estimates used to determine the travel account balance for the Canadian balance of payments provide an overall total for demand by non-residents (tourism exports). Expenditure information is collected quarterly through Canada Customs, while international travelers entering or returning to Canada are counted monthly. Total non-resident demand is then broken down by type of expenditure using travel profiles generated during the detailed calculation of the CTSA. The methodology to calculate domestic demand estimates has two separate components. First, a derived estimate is constructed taking total demand minus the non-resident demand at an annual level. This "top-down" approach is further supplemented by the TSRC data. Quarterly patterns for commodities are taken from the TSRC and used to distribute the annual data.

Like the supply and demand indicators, the NTI employment estimates are benchmarked to the CTSA estimates, which in turn are based on measures from the Labour Productivity Accounts. The Labour Force Survey is used primarily to produce control totals, and SEPH is used primarily to compute the industry-by-industry breakdown. The latter data are also used to project the quarterly estimates on a current basis. The data, which estimate direct employment, are then seasonally adjusted.

Similarly, GDP estimates are based on CTSA annual benchmarks. Quarterly movements and non-benchmark year estimates are calculated using tourism expenditure as an indicator. These direct measures of GDP are then seasonally adjusted.

Quality evaluation

The NTI are based on a wide array of related and comparable data. Supply estimates generally follow the trends of the output measures for industries in the supply and use system and the GDP by industry accounts.

Tourism expenditures have similar trends to related consumer spending series. However, because tourism includes both personal and business travel, the trends are not the same.

Non-resident spending, or tourism exports, is based on Balance of Payments data, which in turn come from the ITS. The NTI however, do not include certain items in the BOP travel account (crews', medical and education spending) and so the data, while similar, are not identical.

Employment and GDP in the NTI are comparable to SEPH and GDP by industry data for tourism industries. The NTI however only includes the employment or production that is attributable to tourism.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

Revisions - Preceding quarters of the year are revised when the current quarter is published. In years when an updated CTSA is not available, revisions extending back three years are made with the publication of first quarter data. In years when an updated CTSA is available, revisions extending back to the CTSA's reference year are made. The data are not normally revised again except when historical revisions are carried out.

Seasonal Adjustment - Tourism is dominated by large seasonal fluctuations exhibiting similar patterns from one year to the next. For the convenience of users, these regular variations are removed, through a statistical technique known as seasonal adjustment, to help isolate underlying trends. Two versions of the quarterly NTI are available, one unadjusted and the other adjusted for seasonal variation.

All seasonally adjusted series of the quarterly NTI are derived using the X12ARIMA method. The adjustment is generally made at the lowest level of aggregation and seasonally adjusted aggregates are obtained by summation. The advantages of this approach are twofold. First, by carrying out the seasonal adjustment at the most detailed level, seasonal shifts in the aggregates are more easily explained. Second, the calculation of seasonally adjusted aggregates by summation preserves the accounting identities in the system and this is much more convenient for users.

Data accuracy

No direct measures of the margin of error in the estimates can be calculated. The quality of the estimates can be inferred from analysis of revisions and from a subjective assessment of the data sources and methodology used in the preparation of the estimates.


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