National Travel Survey (NTS)

Detailed information for February 2016 (pilot survey)





Record number:


The National Travel Survey provides statistics on Canadian residents, activities related to domestic and international tourism. It was developed to measure the volume, the characteristics and the economic impact.

Data release - Results of the pilot survey will not be disseminated.


The National Travel Survey was developed to fully replace the Travel Survey of Residents of Canada (record number 3810) and partially replace the Canadian resident component of the International Travel Survey (record number 3152). The National Travel Survey collects information about the domestic and international travel of Canadian residents. A pilot project was developed to be conducted in February and March 2016. The pilot version of the National Travel Survey evaluates the on-line response application and the take-up rate.

The National Travel Survey, sponsored by Statistics Canada, aims to measure the characteristics and the economic impact of the tourism activities of Canadian residents. The objectives of the survey are to provide information about the number of trips and expenditures by Canadian residents by trip origin, destination, duration, type of accommodation used, trip reason, mode of travel, etc.; to provide information on travel incidence and to provide the socio-demographic profile of travellers and non-travellers. From a macroeconomic point of view, the NTS measures the domestic and international tourism demand by Canadian residents.


  • Domestic travel
  • International travel
  • Travel and tourism

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population is the civilian, non-institutionalized population 18 years of age or older in Canada's ten provinces. Specifically excluded from the survey's coverage are: persons living on Indian reserves, persons living in the territories. Together, these groups represent an exclusion of less than 3% of the Canadian population aged 18 and older.

Consideration to include persons living in the territories will be given in 2018.

Instrument design

The content of the National Travel Survey electronic questionnaire was drawn from the Travel Survey of Residents of Canada and the International Travel Survey, which were based on consultation with several tourism provincial organizations/departments. Statistics Canada System of National Accounts participated to the questionnaire design.

The questionnaire underwent cognitive testing in the form of in-depth interviews in both of Canada's official languages, conducted by Statistics Canada's Questionnaire Design Resource Centre. The goal of the qualitative study was to test a new introduction to the survey and different trip definitions and the goals of the pilot test were to evaluate the on-line response application and to estimate the take-up rate. The survey pilot was also used to evaluate multiple letter-based respondent selection method. The conventional method of random selection was to select a household and use the application to select a respondent. The pilot will provide information on the ability of household member to interpret and comply with the one of the random selection methods described in the letter.


This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design.

The National Travel Survey uses a three-stage sample design:

- Dwelling
- Person
- Trip

For the first stage, the survey pilot is based on the dwelling universe file (DUF) and socioeconomic file (SEF). These data exclude residents of Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, as well as persons living on Indian reserves and in parts of a collective dwelling that are not a part of a dwelling associated with collective (DAWC). The pilot also uses a sample of 1,000,000 persons who have a Canadian passport (from Passport Canada), from which a household-level variable is created. This passport variable separates households in which at least one adult holds a Canadian passport from households in which no passport information is available.

The data can then be stratified by province, passport variable and income group. A simple random sample is drawn from each stratum. The total sample includes 22,500 households.

For the second stage, one adult per selected household will be chosen randomly using simple random sampling. The pilot tests three selection methods: selection by date of birth, selection by age and random selection by the computer application.

For the third stage, the e-questionnaire asks the respondent for a brief description of all of his or her trips that ended in the reference month. The application then selects up to three trips using sequential Poisson sampling.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2016-03-01 to 2016-03-31

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Selected households receive a letter in the mail. The letter corresponds to one of the three selection methods tested by the pilot (selection by date of birth, selection by age or random selection by the computer application). A household may receive up to three reminders. The access code in the letters gives the respondent access to the online questionnaire. The respondent must provide basic information on all of his or her trips (domestic and international) that ended in the reference month. The respondent then provides details on the trips selected.

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.

The 2016 pilot National Travel Survey will not disclose any information obtained to the public.

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