OTTAWA - Canadian and international visitors to Canada are spending fewer tourism dollars, Statistics Canada reported Monday.

The agency has released new numbers showing tourism spending declined 1.3 per cent between January and March of this year. Tourism spending has now fallen for three straight quarters. The last time that happened was around the time of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, when the tourism sector was already in a downturn.

Spending by international visitors fell 5.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2009 - the 14th decline in 17 quarters, and the sharpest decline since the SARS outbreak during the second quarter of 2003.

Visitors from outside the country spent less all around. Spending on vehicle fuel declined as fewer tourists from the United States made same-day car trips to Canada. Visitors also spent less on food and drinks.

Canadians' spending on tourism in Canada fell 0.1 per cent after modest declines in the previous two quarters.

Fewer Canadians travelled abroad, and spending on air travel fell 2.5 per cent during the quarter.

However, overnight travel within Canada was up. Canadians spent more in the quarter on accommodation, car rentals, gasoline, food and drink, and recreation and entertainment.

Meanwhile, tourism gross domestic product contracted 0.9 per cent during the quarter following two negative quarters in the second half of 2008.

Latest From ...