(Ottawa) Tourism spending continued to rise last year, but remained well below pre-pandemic levels, Statistics Canada said Thursday.

Between October and December, tourism spending increased for a seventh consecutive quarter, rising 2.1% from the third quarter to reach 20.1 billion, the federal agency said.

For the full year, tourism spending jumped 45% to 74.38 billion as domestic and international travel resumed as COVID-19 pandemic restrictions lifted.

However, this figure is more than a fifth below 2019 tourism spending levels, which were around 95 billion.

According to Statistics Canada, domestic spending on tourism activities fell between the third and fourth quarters, but purchases by international visitors more than offset the difference with a jump of 17.5%.

The agency calculates that tourism supported 657,400 jobs in the fourth quarter, up 1.5% from the previous quarter.