A beautiful beach with blue water and palm trees

Travel trends for the Caribbean and Mexico

Millions of Canadians travel to the Caribbean or Mexico each year to get away from the cold winter weather. Heading south for a week is the perfect opportunity to give yourself a break from the snow, and just relax and soak up the sun.

Based on an October 2014 survey by the Conference Board of Canada, almost two-thirds of Canadians plan on travelling this winter, and an increasing number of residents are planning a vacation in Mexico or the Caribbean.

More Canadians are travelling to Mexico or the Caribbean

There is nothing like sitting on the beach, enjoying a cocktail and working on your tan in the middle of January. This is exactly what many Canadians plan to do this winter. The Conference Board survey found that of the Canadians who plan on travelling this winter, approximately 30% plan to spend time in Mexico or the Caribbean. This is about the same percentage of Canadians who plan on visiting the US during the same time period, despite an increase in travel costs for trips to these regions.

Overall, trips to destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico increased by almost 5% during last year’s winter travel season. With so many all-inclusive resort and vacation package options, the warm weather, and water sport and excursions options, it’s no surprise that more Canadians are choosing these destinations. Other than the US, Mexico and the Caribbean are the most popular travel destinations for Canadians.

Where in Mexico or the Caribbean are Canadians visiting?

With close to 10% of Canadians planning on travelling to Mexico this winter, it is the top non-US destination for these winter travellers. Mexico has a lot to offer travellers: Cancun (one of the most popular spring break destinations), the ancient ruins in Tulum, the beautiful beaches of Cabo and unique Mexican culture.

The second-most popular travel destination for winter trips is Cuba, and more Canadians indicate that they want to visit the third-most popular Caribbean destination, the Dominican Republic.

Many Caribbean countries saw an increase in Canadian travellers last year, including

the Bahamas, Curaçao, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Mexico and Jamaica. Each of these countries experienced about a 5% increase in visitors from Canada.

Overall, the “big four” Caribbean destinations (Mexico, Dominican Republic, Cuba and Jamaica) hosted close to 90% of Canadian visitors last year, and the trend is expected to continue into this winter travel season.

Travel to some of the smaller islands increased significantly. More Canadians are willing to visit new and smaller Caribbean destinations, and this trend is expected to continue into this year. Of the countries that experienced the largest increase in the number of travellers, Anguilla, Grenada, Curaçao and St. Maarten saw the biggest increase in Canadian travellers.

Seven Caribbean destinations saw a decrease in Canadian travel arrivals, including Aruba, Barbados, Guyana and Puerto Rico.

Canadians are not travelling to Central or South America

Currently, most Canadians do not have much interest in travelling to Central or South America. Most people deem the distance, lack of travel options and lack of information about these countries as their reasons for having little interest.

However, countries such as Panama and Costa Rica are slowly increasing in popularity among Canadians as these countries expand their tourism industries. Brazil, Panama and Peru remain the most travelled countries in this region.

The importance of travel insurance for winter vacations

While it’s important to have travel insurance whenever you travel outside your home province, the need for travel insurance is even more significant when travelling during the winter and to exotic destinations. From flight delays and cancellations, unforeseen travel-related illnesses, and medical emergencies in foreign countries, travel insurance can help you overcome a potentially serious travel issue in many situations.

Learn more about travel insurance in our Travel insurance 101 section.