Travel Activities and Motivation Survey (TAMS)

Detailed information for 2006





Record number:


The survey collected, among other things, information on Canadian residents' travel patterns during the past two years, their travel intentions over the next two years, their participation in entertainment and recreational activities at home and while on an overnight trip, the reasons for travelling or not travelling in Canada, the types of accommodation used, the sources of travel planning information and their impressions of Canada.

Data release - November 3, 2006


The Travel Activities and Motivation Survey (TAMS) was conducted on behalf of several federal, provincial and territorial agencies responsible for tourism. Researchers and consultants in government, private businesses, universities and the media will use the survey results to educate and inform the public, develop new programs and determine the need for new services and infrastructure.

The survey's overall objective was to collect information on Canadians' travel activities and motivation to travel. Some additional data objectives were:
- to collect information on overnight trips taken in the past two years in Canada, the United States and other countries;
- to collect information on the reasons for overnight trips taken in Canada, the United States and other countries; and
- to collect information on activities undertaken while travelling.


  • Commuting to work
  • Domestic travel
  • International travel
  • Labour
  • Travel and tourism

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population for the telephone survey was all persons 18 years of age and older in each of the 10 Canadian provinces, excluding full-time residents of institutions. The TAMS was administered as a random digit dialling (RDD) survey, a technique whereby telephone numbers are generated randomly by computer. With RDD, households without telephones were also excluded. However, persons living in such households represented less than 6% of the target population.

The target population for the mail survey was the same as just described except that it excluded non-travellers. Travellers were defined as persons answering, at the time of the telephone survey, that they had taken an out-of-town trip of one or more nights in the past two years.

Instrument design

The questionnaire was extensively tested using focus groups.


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

The RDD sample is a stratified simple random sample of telephone numbers selected with replacement. The sample was stratified by census metropolitan area (CMA) by telephone status (residential/unknown). A screening activity aimed at removing not in service numbers was performed for telephone numbers of "unknown" status.

All respondents identified as travellers during the telephone interview were asked to complete a mail-out/mail-back paper questionnaire. The sample design for the mail-out/mail-back survey is a two phase design: the first phase is the telephone interview, and the second phase is the paper questionnaire for travellers only.

The sample design is a complex design because the target population is defined as adults but the sampling unit is telephone numbers. The initial RDD sample consisted of 132,065 telephone numbers nationally.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2006-01-01 to 2006-06-30

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

The survey was a random digit dialling sample survey of 53,150 Canadians and consisted of two phases: a telephone survey to identify travellers and non-travellers, and a mail survey, to be completed by all travellers.

The telephone survey was conducted using a computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) application. Data collection for the telephone survey took place for approximately a four month period from January to mid-April, 2006. If a respondent refused to provide some or all information requested, interviewers' supervisors were instructed to make a second call in an attempt to obtain the information. If the respondent was temporarily away or there was some language or other difficulty preventing an interview, interviewers were instructed to call back at another time. Proxy responses on behalf of the respondents were not allowed.

Data collection for the mail survey took place for approximately a five month period from mid-January to mid-June, 2006. This survey was administered through the Statistics Canada Operations and Integration Division. A telephone follow-up with non-responding travellers was conducted by staff of this division during the collection period.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s).

Error detection

Data processing for the telephone survey was relatively straightforward since the data was captured using a computer-assisted telephone interview application, in which edits and flows had been programmed to improve the consistency of the captured data. Data processing was much more complex for the paper questionnaire.

Some respondent data for the paper questionnaire did not respect the questionnaire flow instructions. In general, the processing system corrected flow inconsistencies using a top-down approach: the variables that come first in the questionnaire were assumed correct and the other variables were modified accordingly. All the mail survey questionnaires completed by respondents were mailed back to the head office in Ottawa for data capture by a computerized Optical Character Recognition (OCR) system.

The first type of error treated was errors in questionnaire flow, where questions which did not apply to the respondent (and should therefore not have been answered) were found to contain answers. In this case a computer edit automatically eliminated superfluous data by following the flow of the questionnaire implied by answers to previous, and in some cases, subsequent questions.

The second type of error treated involved a lack of information in questions which should have been answered. For this type of error, a non-response or "not-stated" code was assigned to the item.


Imputation is the process that supplies valid values for variables that have invalid or missing data. Imputation was not appropriate for most items on either the telephone or the mail-out/mail-back questionnaire. Not stated codes were assigned to items with missing data. Records judged to have insufficient data were removed from processing.

The one variable that was subject to imputation is the census metropolitan area. Initial CMA codes were assigned during sample selection using the first six digits of the telephone number (the area code plus the prefix of the number). Better quality CMA codes were derived from collected postal codes using the Postal Code Conversion File (PCCF). A validation process was implemented to verify the postal codes and derived CMA codes. Donor imputation was performed for records with CMAs deemed invalid (1% of records) or missing postal codes (5% of records).


The weighting was done first for the telephone survey, and then for the mail-out/mail-back paper questionnaire. The weighting for the telephone component of TAMS consisted of the following steps:
1. Calculate design weights
2. Remove the screened out telephone numbers
3. Adjust for non-resolved telephone numbers
4. Remove out-of-scope telephone numbers
5. Adjust for non-responding households
6. Adjust for the selection of one household member
7. Adjust for non-responding persons
8. Adjust for records with insufficient data
9. Adjust for number of telephone lines
10. Calibrate to external totals

The weights of the 7,007 non-travellers were derived using Steps 1 to 10.

A separate set of weights were derived for the mail-out/mail-back paper questionnaire. The data from the telephone survey was used to determine which variables best explain non-response to the paper questionnaire. The following steps were performed:
11. Adjust for non-response to paper questionnaire
12. Calibrate to telephone survey

The weights of the 24,692 travellers were derived using Steps 1 to 12.

Please refer to Chapter 11.0 (Weighting) of the User Guide for detailed information.

Quality evaluation

Considerable time and effort was made to reduce non-sampling errors in the survey. Quality assurance measures were implemented at each step of the data collection and processing cycle to monitor the quality of the data. These measures included focus group testing of the questionnaire, testing of processes through a pilot survey, use of highly skilled interviewers, training of interviewers with respect to the survey procedures and questionnaire, and coding and edit checks to verify the processing logic.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any data that would divulge information obtained under the Statistics Act that relates to any identifiable person, business or organization without the prior knowledge or the consent in writing of that person, business or organization. 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.

It should be noted that the "Public Use" Microdata Files (PUMF) may differ from the survey "master" files held by Statistics Canada. These differences usually are the result of actions taken to protect the anonymity of individual survey respondents. The most common actions are the suppression of file variables, grouping values into wider categories, and coding specific values into the "not stated" category.

The survey master file includes the respondent's precise age, while the PUMF contains age groups only.

For certain variables that are susceptible to identifying individuals, the PUMF may have been treated with local suppression, that is, some of the values in the master file may have been coded as "not stated" on the PUMF.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology does not apply to this survey.

Data accuracy

While considerable effort is made to ensure high standards throughout all stages of collection and processing, the resulting estimates are inevitably subject to a certain degree of error. These errors can be broken down into two major types: non-sampling and sampling.

Non-response is an important source of non-sampling error. The response rate for the telephone survey was 55.9% and the mail-out survey was 53.5%.

The basis for measuring the potential size of sampling errors is the standard error of the estimates derived from survey results. Because of the large variety of estimates that can be produced from a survey, the standard error of an estimate is usually expressed relative to the estimate to which it pertains. This resulting measure, known as the coefficient of variation (CV) of an estimate, is obtained by dividing the standard error of the estimate by the estimate itself and is expressed as a percentage of the estimate.

Please refer to the User Guide for detailed information.


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