Canada - Tourism, travel, and recreation

One of Canada's principal attractions for tourists is its extraordinary geographic variety: from the polar ice cap to the mountains, fjords, and rain forests of the west coast, from the lakes, forests, and ranchlands of the interior to the rugged shores and fine beaches of the east, Canada offers a remarkable range of scenic wonders. The excavation of L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, with its Norse artifacts and reconstructed dwellings, has been designated a world heritage site by UNESCO, as have Nahanni National Park in the Northwest Territories and Dinosaur Park in Alberta's Red Deer Badlands. Among the most spectacular parks are the Kluane National Park in the Yukon and the Banff (with Lake Louise) and Jasper national parks in the mountains of Alberta. Other attractions include the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia; the Bay of Fundy, between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia; and the Laurentians and the Gaspé Peninsula in Québec.

The arts and crafts of the Dene Indians and the Inuit may be seen in cooperative workshops in Inuvik in the Northwest Territories; and of the North West Coast Indians, at the reconstructed Indian village Ksan in British Columbia. Québec City is the only walled city in North America; picturesque old fishing villages are to be found in the Atlantic provinces. Fishing and hunting attract many sportsmen to Canada, and ice hockey attracts many sports fans, particularly to the Forum in Montréal. Major league baseball teams play in Montréal and Toronto. In 1992, the Toronto major league baseball team, the Blue Jays, became the first non-American team to both play in and win the World Series.

One of the world's foremost summer theatrical events is the Shakespeare Festival at Stratford, Ontario. Toronto is known for its many theaters, the CN Tower, and a fine zoo; Montréal, the second-largest French-speaking city in the world (after Paris), is famous for its fine French cuisine, its night life, its vast underground shopping and entertainment network, and its excellent subway system.

Montréal in 1967 hosted a major world trade exhibition, EXPO 67; the Summer Olympics took place in that same city in 1976. A world's fair, EXPO 86, was held in Vancouver in 1986, and Calgary was the site of the 1988 Winter Olympics.

In 1998, Canada was the third most popular tourist destination in the Americas after the United States and Mexico. In that year, 18,825,100 tourists arrived from abroad, 14,880,400 of them from the United States. In 2000, 19,650,300 tourists arrived in Canada, with 15,211,900 from the United States.

Citizens of the United States do not need passports but should carry documents attesting to their citizenship, such as birth certificates or voter registration cards. Alien residents should carry their green cards. Nationals of other countries must have valid passports and may require visitor visas; they should check with the nearest Canadian embassy, consulate, or high commission. In 1991, a 7% Goods and Services Tax went into effect; however, it is refundable to foreign tourists.

As of 1998, there were 330,003 hotel rooms in Canada with an occupancy rate of 64%. The US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in Vancouver at US $144 to US $205 per day and US $211 to US $233 per day for Toronto in 2001–02.

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