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Winter-ravaged Canadians love those warm-weather U.S. states for vacations, and they increased their year-round visitor spending in 2011 when staying stateside for at least one night 14.7% to $16.4 billion.

That’s one of the findings of the U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, Office of Travel & Tourism Industries, which just released its numbers on Canadian visitor spending and nights per visit in the U.S. for 2011. (See state-by-state analysis below.)

In fact, among the five top states for Canadian visitor spending (Florida, New York, California, Nevada and Arizona), only in New York is it impossible to work on your tan in all seasons.

However, the suntan lotion might have been optional for Canadian visitors to Nevada, which attracted nearly $1.4 billion in spending from these vacationers in 2011, considering that they likely spent a lot of time in Las Vegas, fending off the darker allures of neon and blackjack.

Lengthy stays of 18 nights on average were the norm for Canadians’ visits in 2011 to Florida and Arizona, while California, Nevada and New York averaged 8.9, 4.7 and 2.8 nights, respectively.

New York, it seems, was merely deemed worthy of a long-weekend respite, with its 2.8-night average stay.

The states that saw the largest percentage increases in Canadian visitor aggregate spending in 2011 were Montana (48%), South Carolina (37%), Michigan (31%), Washington (27%), and North Carolina (22%), although Montana, South Carolina and North Carolina each failed to crack the 1,000 Canadian visitor mark.

The five most popular states for Canadians — the ones that drew the most visitors in 2011 — were New York, Florida, Washington, Michigan, and Nevada.

Overall, the number of Canadian visits to the U.S. of one night or more increased 6.9% in 2011 to 21.3 million.

StateTotal Canadian
Visitors (000s)
Nights per visitSpending in $000s
(for visits of 1+ nights)
Change in spending from 2010
NEW YORK3,7012.81,389,28614%
NORTH DAKOTA7672.1246,12120%
SOUTH CAROLINA5657.4352,72837%
NORTH CAROLINA4324.2146,55822%

Source: Office of Travel and Tourism Industries

Note: Dan Nguyen contributed to this report

Tags: canada, tourism, usa
Photo Credit: Canada trinkets on sale at Epcot. Sam Howzit /