Canada will reopen to vaccinated American travelers next month. How much will a trip cost?

·4 min read

Canada decided to open its borders to vaccinated Americans– but how much can visitors expect a trip up north to cost after more than a year of strict travel restrictions?

The Canadian government announced July 19 that it would allow fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents to cross its borders, starting Aug. 9. The United States extended travel restrictions on its side of the border through at least Aug. 21.

Travel to Canada is likely to accelerate once restrictions ease. Here's what experts have to say about how that shift could affect travel costs such as room rates and airfare.

Canada border: Canada to ease travel restrictions. Here are 10 things to know before a trip

On Aug. 9: Canada to reopen its borders to fully vaccinated Americans

Hotel room rates are going up

Hotel room rates in Canada aren’t back to pre-pandemic levels, but they’re inching closer.

Average daily room rates in June were about $125.05 Canadian dollars ($99.42), about 31% below rates in June 2019 but up 10% from the month prior, according to analytics company CoStar Group.

Hotel room rates in Canada are rising but are still below pre-pandemic levels.
Hotel room rates in Canada are rising but are still below pre-pandemic levels.

“As soon as the U.S. land border (into Canada) reopens, we believe that rates will certainly be given a boost because the demand will increase as well,” Laura Baxter, CoStar Group’s director of hospitality analytics for Canada, told USA TODAY. "We do expect … quite a bit of pent-up leisure demand that will come across the border.”

Room rates in small towns and near highways are likely to see the most dramatic pricing shifts, Baxter said, since hotels in large urban markets won't have many business travel bookings to help fill rooms.

“American travelers typically pay high rates, and that will certainly improve the average room rates in general in Canada,” Baxter said.

Those looking for deals on Canadian hotel rates should book soon, Baxter advised.

“The sooner, the better,” she said.

Though pricing is likely to grow, CoStar expects the average room rates in Canada will be below pre-pandemic pricing until 2025.

US border: US extends Mexico, Canada border restrictions through Aug. 21

US side still restricted: Couples separated by Canadian border plead for US to end travel restrictions

What will airfare to Canada cost?

It’s too early to say how the easing of border restrictions will affect airfare, according to Kent Gourdin, professor and director of the Global Logistics and Transportation Program at the College of Charleston.

“My first take is, I wouldn’t think (pricing will surge) – at least not initially,” he told USA TODAY. "But it's too soon, and it's too unstable (to say)."

Saturday, pricing on flight search tool Skyscanner showed round-trip airfare from the USA to Vancouver starts at $251 next month. August trips to Montreal and Toronto both start at $303.

Burkett Huey, an equity analyst at research firm Morningstar, said it’s “safe to expect that the average airfares will increase from 2020 levels,” but it isn’t clear how pricing later in the year will compare with pre-pandemic rates.

Canada's easing of restrictions will allow nonessential travelers in America to cross its borders by land, air or sea, but air travelers will still face COVID-19 protocols upon reentering the USA.

American visitors will need to get tested no more than three days before their return trip or show proof of recovery to return to the USA.

Airlines add flights to Canada

Airlines plan to increase flights to Canada as travel restrictions ease.

Air Canada, the country's largest international airline, announced a summer trans-border schedule with up to 220 daily flights between the USA. and Canada as of Aug. 9.

The initial schedule will include 55 routes and 34 U.S. destinations, but the airline plans to restore service to all 57 U.S. destinations previously served “as conditions allow,” according to a news release Monday.

Air Canada's summer trans-border schedule includes up to 220 daily flights between the USA and Canada as of Aug. 9.
Air Canada's summer trans-border schedule includes up to 220 daily flights between the USA and Canada as of Aug. 9.

Air Canada CEO and President Michael Rousseau said Friday that the company sees a steady increase of trans-border bookings and that the industry is “turning a corner.”

“We expect the most recent announcements of the government of Canada relaxing existing measures will further help strengthen the interest of our customers in flying,” Rousseau said during a call with investors.

United Airlines, which flies to Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, said Monday it would add flights to Toronto and Vancouver in September.

American Airlines services four airports in Canada – Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver – and is set to resume operations in Halifax, Quebec and Ottawa in the spring of 2022, according to a statement in June.

Gourdin said travelers will have to wait and see whether the additional flights have any effect on pricing.

"The airlines – they're just kind of testing the waters and adding flights," he said. "In a few months, they could cancel (flights) if the demand isn't there."

Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Canada travel: How pricey are flights, hotels as Canada border opens?