Top Destinations for Canadians: Caribbean, North America, U.K.

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Now that the CAD$ is so strong, tourism markets are benefiting from a record-breaking upward trend in Canadian travel statistics.

#1: U.S.

Canada’s official agency, Statistics Canada, keeps track of these cross-border shopping trips. Recently, StatCan reported that Canada’s NAFTA neighbor, the U.S., kept its lead as the most popular travel destination for Canadian residents.

No surprise there. In August, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported that U.S. businesses were capturing one of every two Canadian dollars spent—about CAD$5.2 billion spent in the U.S.—by selling clothing, milk, and airfares that cost far less, south of the Canadian border.

New York City

Photo credit: Patrick Briggs

#2: Mexico

Add to the mix the recently relaxed limits on duty-free purchases for Canadian travelers. Sprinkle in beaches and tropical weather, and you’ve got the recipe for Mexico, the second-most-popular travel destination.

The feeling is mutual; according to Rodolfo Lopez-Negrete, COO of the Mexico Tourism Board, Canada is Mexico’s second-largest source of visitors.

Within Mexico, a strong magnet for Canadian travelers is the coastal area of Riviera Nayarit, along the central Pacific coast. The region, from Puerto Vallarta in the south up through Playa Novilleros in the north, offers snow-chilled Canadians the chance to thaw out, with an average temperature of 73F / 22C during the month of December.

Mexico

Photo credit: lecates

#3: Cuba

Beyond NAFTA territory, many Canadians choose to spend their leisure time and money in the Caribbean locale of Cuba. Spectacular beaches abound here, so the main decision is this: which point to choose along that continuum? Nightclub-like (Varadero), secluded (Cayo Coco), or something in-between?

Beyond the obvious allure of warm beaches, refugees from the Land of the Canuck also find paladares (restaurants in Cuban homes), lively music in Havana, and architecture (colonial-era homes, as well as mansions and palaces).

Cuba

Photo credit: Liz

#4: U.K.

Geographical distance might help explain why, despite strong economic and historical ties, the U.K. didn’t quite place among the top three destinations for Canadians.

Still, as the second-largest economy in Europe,the U.K. attracts many Canadians—by being home to employers, family members, and universities. Not to mention a depth and breadth of activities and places: brisk ice skating, cozy pubs, Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival, festive Christmas markets, historic Bath, jaw-dropping views of the coast (never more than 75 miles away while you’re in the U.K.), tallest-Ferris-wheel-in-Europe London Eye, and West End musicals.

London

Photo credit: Anirudh Koul

#5: Dominican Republic

Like its Caribbean neighbor Cuba, Dominican Republic offers beaches and December temperatures that go no lower than 67F / 19C. Bright colors abound–along beaches (on the sand or underwater), at outdoor markets, at Cabarete nightclubs, and in Dominican yards.

For Canadians looking to hold onto as many CAD$ as possible, all-inclusive beach resorts at Puerto Plata offer a venue that helps you forget the icy winds of northern latitudes.

If you’re looking to explore the North Coast of Dominican Republic, then Sosua offers a great home base. Literally. Many expatriates now live there–Canadians have got a year-round presence, along with Americans, Austrians, and Germans. Also, Sosua is located halfway between Cabarete and Puerto Plata.

And it’s got some attractions you might not expect to find in Dominican Republic–a dairy and a synagogue, established by Jewish settlers during the mid-1900s.

Dominican Republic

Photo credit: Michelle Brea

Of course, the most memorable holidays are the ones that Canadians discover for themselves. With the suggestions on this page, you’re well on the way!

Austin likes to write about travel, destinations and special vacations you wouldn’t normally take.

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