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ARCHIVED - Economic Impact of International Education in Canada

7. Additional Benefit from Tourism Activities

One additional benefit of international education to the host country is the increased tourism activities due to family and friends visiting the host country while students remain in the country.

As with our previous study in 2009, there is not data which shows that actual percentage of international students having family and friends visiting while they stay in Canada.  For the purposes of this estimation, we have used similar methodology as in our 2009 study to derive the estimated number of family and friends of international students who participate in tourism activities.

The methodology in our previous study in 2009 was based on research work conducted by Tourism Research Australia in 2007 (Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET), 2009).  The study shows that for every 10 formal visiting student (defined as those whose main purpose of visiting Australia is education), there are an additional five family and friend visitors to the country. For those informal visiting students (defined as those whose main purpose of visiting Australia was not education but still studied a course while on the trip), every 10 bring an additional 2 visitors.

Table 21 Friend and Family Visitors per International Student, Australia, 2006
 Formal Study
Informal Study
All Students
Number of Family Visiting0.30.10.4
Number of Friend Visiting0.20.10.3

Source: Tourism Research Australia 2007, Reproduced from ACPET 2009

If we assume international students visiting Canada follow a similar pattern, we can estimate that the number of family and friend visitors could be as high as 131,200 per year. This is shown in Table 22.

Table 22 Number of Friend and Family Visitors Related to International Students in Canada
 Formal Study
Informal Study
All Students
Number of Family Visiting65,47211,01676,488
Number of Friend Visiting 43,64811,01654,664

Source: RKA

For travel expenses, we have made use of data available from Statistics Canada’s publication International Travel, 2009, which indicated that for one or more night travelers to Canada, average expenditure they spent in Canada was $739.[16] (Average number of nights they stayed in Canada was 7.4.)

Using information we have derived on student enrollment by province/territory, along with our estimates of “friends and family tourists”, we have calculated total expenditure related to additional tourism activities. We have further estimated the economic impact of tourism related expenditure (estimated to be $336 million in 2010) on GDP, employment, and government revenue due to student expenditure as described above.  This is equivalent to about $188 million in GDP, 5,550 jobs, and $9.7 million in government revenue. This is represented in Table 23.[17]

Table 23 Direct Economic Impact of Tourism Activities Associated with International Students and Their Family/Friends, 2010
 Estimated Total
Tourist Spending
GDPEmploymentGovernment Revenue
and Labrador
Prince Edward Island$822,570$410,00020$23,000
Nova Scotia$10,168,360$5,875,000210$324,000
New Brunswick$3,969,880$1,930,00080$81,800
British Columbia$112,440,910$63,251,0001,830$3,187,000
Yukon, Northwest
Territories and Nunavut

Source: RKA based on Statistics Canada's Provincial Input-Output Multipliers, 2007.

Using an approach as described in section 6.2.3, out of the total of $9.7 million tax revenue, $3.9 million was contribution to federal government tax revenue, while $5.9 million was contribution to provincial and territorial governments.

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[16] See International Travel 2009 (View/download PDF - 1016.93 KB) for information on international travel.

[17] In estimating direct economic impact in terms of GDP, employment, and government revenue related to tourism related activities, total expenditure in each province has been allocated to these following industries in the individual provincial input-output model: retail trade; transit and ground passenger transportation; accommodation and food services; and arts, entertainment and recreation.


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