Month: October 2019

Over 80 members of Canada’s tourism research community recently gathered to network and learn about the latest tourism research from statisticians, academics, students, and destination marketers. The thought-provoking Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA) Canada Chapter Conference was held September 18-20 on Treaty Six land in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Statistics Canada led a workshop prior to the conference, showing how to access the highly detailed information that can be gathered from the Frontier Counts, the National Travel Survey, and the Visitor Travel Survey, as well as Tourism HR Canada’s own Rapid reSearch Tool. The afternoon saw attendees visit Wanuskewin Heritage Park for a case study on building authentic Indigenous tourism experiences.

Delegates were welcomed to the conference’s official opening by Lyndon Linklater, a traditional knowledge keeper and storyteller and a citizen of the Thunderchild First Nation in Treaty Six.

Highlights of the two-day event included keynotes from Stephen Pearce of Tourism Vancouver on how to develop a film tourism destination by working hand-in-hand with the film industry, and an inspirational discussion on how to “find your awesome” by Kerri Twigg of Career Stories Consulting.

Attendees learned about the development of Indigenous tourism experiences based on work by Tourism Saskatchewan, Glyph Creative Strategy, and Insightrix Research and the insights they have acquired.

Some of Canada’s leading tourism researchers, including Michel Dubreuil of Destination Canada, Larry Filler of Environics Analytics, and Greg Hermus of the Conference Board of Canada, shared innovative approaches to filling in data and information gaps.

There were 27 breakouts on a wide range of topics, ranging from the impacts of climate change on tourism to wine tourism to overcrowding to Canadians’ sentiments towards the sector. Delegates were also able to participate in several workshops to learn about such subjects as modern brand communication and place marketing and the economic importance of tourism as displayed by the Tourism Satellite Account.

Calum MacDonald, Tourism HR Canada’s Vice President of Labour Market Intelligence and member of the TTRA Canada Board of Directors, showed delegates how to access information on the tourism sector’s labour force using data available through the Rapid reSearch Tool. This online portal allows users to pull customized data for the tourism sector from the census, labour force survey, business counts, and provincial-territorial human resource modules, as well as projections of labour supply and demand for the tourism sector.

He also presented the findings of two surveys of Canadian residents on their perceptions of tourism as an economic driver and as a place of work. The conclusion? As we grow the tourism industry, it is important that we continue to create well-paid, career-oriented tourism employment, as well as the frontline jobs that provide an entry point to the labour force.

The conference recognized the work of the next generation of tourism researchers via poster and video presentations by students from the University of Manitoba, Vancouver Island University, the University of Guelph, and Ryerson University.

The winner of the Gordon Taylor Award for Undergraduate Research was Katherine Lo of Ryerson University for her paper built on a qualitative study (based on in-depth interviews with hotel professionals) titled “Skills Gaps in the Luxury Hospitality Sector: The Case of Toronto”.

Tourism HR Canada proudly sponsored the Graduate Researcher Award, given to Brittany Lutes from the University of Guelph for her paper “You bragged I booked: an exploration of how social network behavior influences destination choice”. The research was conducted in collaboration with Tourism Nova Scotia and examined two distinct groups of social media users. She concluded that those with a tendency to conform are inclined to visit destinations that are trending within their social network, while those who tend to brag or seek out social return prefer to travel to destinations that are unique or perceived to be superior to those trending on social media.

The next TTRA International Conference will be held in Victoria, British Columbia, from June 16 to 18, 2020. The TTRA Canada Chapter Conference will return in September 2021, hosted in Kingston, Ontario.

Tourism stakeholders continue to bring real-world guidance to the Future Skills Framework, a three-year initiative to create a comprehensive and sustainable collection of competencies and essential skills for the tourism sector.

Sixteen industry experts from across Canada gathered in Ottawa, Ontario, on September 24 and 25 for two days of consultation towards content of the framework. Their main goal was to consolidate the framework’s building blocks, ensuring its applicability to the real-life context of tourism operators.

The wealth of experience in the room quickly became evident when those present showed their ability to delve into the details of individual competencies, while condensing the structure of the framework as a whole down to its essentials. A very collaborative atmosphere manifested itself over the course of the two-day meeting.

By making immediate changes to the framework based on consensus in the room, the participants were able to significantly strengthen the framework ahead of an in-depth meeting on the framework’s Professionalism, Excellence in Service Delivery, and Human Capital pillars, which will take place on November 5 and 6 in Ottawa.

This meeting, and similar ones to be held across Canada, will subject the framework to industry input and feedback, while continuing to expand it with emerging skills highlighted by experts.

There are still spaces available at the November session. If you are a tourism professional who would like to be part of future-proofing the industry’s labour market, please do let us know.

To be informed of consultation events in other areas of Canada, please email

Destination Employment Atlantica HotelNow into its second year, the national Destination Employment program continues to successfully help newcomers acquire the knowledge and experience they need to gain meaningful employment in Canada.

The program provides skills and language training to newcomers to Canada in five regions: Yukon, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada. Participating employers gain resources to help onboard the new staff, including the establishment of a robust mentorship program.

The pilot program enters the fall season with regional delivery partners working tirelessly to organize cohorts for newcomers in their respective regions. The following sessions are either planned or already underway:

  • The Yukon Tourism Education Council (YTEC) started a new cohort on September 23.
  • The Saskatchewan Tourism Education Council (STEC) commenced classes for its fall cohorts in Regina and Saskatoon, both on September 9.
  • In Ontario, OTEC Workforce Solutions has three cohorts scheduled to start, one on October 7 in Guelph, another on October 7 in Ottawa, and a third on November 25 in Toronto.

Newcomers interested in future sessions in any of the five participating areas can explore the program requirements and connect with their regional delivery partner here.

Hoteliers interested in participating in the program by employing program graduates are asked to contact

With success stories such as these, the program is making an impact both on the lives of newcomers and on the labour shortages challenging hospitality employers.

Toronto, Ontario, September 26, 2019: Today, OTEC Workforce Solutions announced that President and CEO, Victoria Behune, has decided to retire effective December 31, 2019. Behune joined OTEC on March 20, 2006 and has served as President and CEO for almost 14 years. She has been a dynamic, visionary, entrepreneurial leader who has overseen the growth and development of OTEC during her tenure by building strong teams and expanding the organization’s portfolio and social impact through innovative products and services. She guided OTEC’s most critical operations, finances, marketing and management processes supported by an experienced and progressive Board of Directors.

A passionate tourism executive and leader, Behune has contributed to help building Ontario as a successful tourism destination by ensuring that well-trained, customer centric and knowledgeable employees are ambassadors to the sector and tourism regions. Under her leadership, OTEC has transitioned to serve the diverse needs of the tourism and hospitality industry, due to economic, political and demographic shifts and changing tourism trends.

Behune has also contributed significantly to Ontario workforce development strategies and the needs of the industry for skilled labour due to shortages. She has helped spearhead new strategic initiatives, as well as technology-based and innovative solutions, to support the sector’s need for skilled labour. She, along with the team at OTEC, established new models for partnerships with government, education, tourism regions and employment serving agencies serving youth, Indigenous peoples, refugees, new immigrants, mature workers and persons with disabilities.

Prior to joining OTEC, Behune served as Vice-President, Membership, Travel and Marketing at CAA Mid-Western Ontario. She was the Vice-President Revenue Development and Partnerships at Tourism Toronto and the Director, Marketing and Visitor Services at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. She has held other progressive senior leadership roles in her 45+ year career in tourism and hospitality.

Behune has made a significant impact to the sector that has spanned the areas of destination management, attraction and destination marketing, experiential and cultural tourism development, labour market and workforce development and travel services management. She has been on the Board of Tourism HR Canada for almost 14 years helping to provide guidance to the national sectoral association also leading on workforce development issues. Previously she has led or served on several DMO, Community and Academic Boards and Committees, including as President of Attractions Ontario, Chair Vaughan Tourism, President of Oakville Arts Council and was on the inaugural Board of Destination Ontario (formerly OTMPC).

“On behalf of the OTEC Board of Directors, we would like to thank Victoria for her passion and dedication to OTEC throughout her tenure as President & CEO. She has been an inspiring and progressive CEO who has guided OTEC’s development and progression into a leading workforce development organization. We would like to congratulate her on her next chapter,” remarks John Wilkinson, OTEC Chair.

Behune will continue to serve as President and CEO of OTEC until December 31, 2019. Starting in 2020, she will continue to assist and associate with the organization. The new President & CEO, who will lead OTEC starting on January 1, 2020, will be announced shortly by the Board of Directors.

About OTEC
OTEC is an Ontario-based independent, not-for-profit training, consulting & workforce development organization that delivers high quality, creative and branded solutions for the development and growth of a professional, skilled workforce. It is the leading source support for communities to build workforce capacity and for companies to attract, retain, and develop high performing employees and become Employer of Choice organizations. OTEC is the premier source for Customer Service training and strategy development, Tourism Ambassador training, leadership skills training and certifications and education products and services for tourism, hospitality and service oriented organizations in a wide range of industry sectors both nationally and internationally.