Earlier this month, Destination Canada released research detailing the impact of COVID-19 on Canada’s tourism economy, one year into the global pandemic.
The report outlines the unprecedented losses 2020 saw for the sector, and calls on Canadians to play a key role in bolstering the tourism economy, creating jobs and supporting local businesses by spending their tourism dollars in Canada.
The data found that if Canadians shift two-thirds of their planned spend on international leisure travel towards domestic tourism, it will make up for the forecasted $19 billion shortfall currently facing our visitor economy, help sustain 150,000 jobs and help accelerate recovery by up to one year.
- Canadians want to travel: while safety is a key consideration in planning travel, data shows high interest in future international travel.
- Recovery is forecasted to take years, but a significant increase in domestic travel can accelerate recovery by up to one year.
- The current situation facing the tourism sector is the worst ever seen, more dire than the impact experienced after 9/11, SARS and the 2008 economic crisis combined.
- Because of its service nature, tourism is the most impacted sector in the Canadian economy. Canada’s major cities have been hit the hardest by the loss of tourism revenue.
- One in 10 Canadian jobs is tied to tourism (9.8%), with Small and medium-sized enterprises making up 99 per cent of businesses in Canada’s tourism sector, impacting Canadian livelihoods.
- Despite initial signs of recovery, tourism businesses continued facing significant financial stress resulting in business closures, some permanently, throughout the year. This resulted in a decline of 9 per cent in active businesses from January to November 2020—the greatest decline of all business sectors.
- Unemployment rates in the tourism sector remained the highest out of any sector, 6.6 per cent above the national rate at the end of 2020. The loss of core staff will hinder businesses’ ability to scale up efficiently, thus further impacting recovery.
- Women, immigrants and youth, who make up the engine of the visitor economy, have been hardest hit by the impact of COVID-19 due to reduced operations, business closures and job loss.
- From April to November 2020, passenger air transport revenues collapsed, falling 91 per cent and accommodation revenues dropping by 71 per cent.
- Despite projected growth, current forecasting for 2021 still places tourism and related job growth in Canada more than 30 per cent below 2019 levels.
- While still significant, job loss was minimized through the $12B+ that was deployed to the tourism sector through Government of Canada initiatives (as of Fall 2020). Programs like the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) prevented the loss of an additional 131,100 jobs in Accommodation and Food and Beverages alone (at its peak in August 2020), and 264,000 jobs in the information, culture and recreation sectors (at its peak in July 2020). New additional programs such as the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) have also been rolled out.