Month: August 2020

Tourism employment increased in July, albeit at a slower pace than in June. Employment increased in four of five tourism industry groups but declined in the transportation industry.

  • Tourism employment increased by 190,000 jobs between June and July, an increase of 12.8%, lower than the 19.7% growth in employment that occurred between May and June.
  • The tourism unemployment rate has fallen to 18.7%.
  • Increases in tourism employment accounted for 65.1% of all employment increases in July.
  • There were 557,200 fewer individuals employed in tourism in July 2020 than in July 2019
  • Employment in occupations with lower average annual earnings was more strongly affected than in occupations where average earnings are higher.

Please note: To allow comparisons with tourism sector data, which sees significant employment fluctuations over the year, we use seasonally unadjusted data for both tourism employment and overall employment.

In the tourism sector, the seasonally unadjusted labour force survey data shows that the number of employed individuals grew by 190,000—an increase of 12.8%, following a 19.7% increase in June. Combined with the increases in May and in June, tourism employment has risen by 517,800 jobs since April. However, employment in tourism remained 17.9% below February levels and 25.0% lower than in July 2019.

Last July, there were over 2.2 million Canadians working in the tourism sector. This July, that number dropped to just over 1.67 million Canadians.

In July, employment (unadjusted for seasonality) across the entire Canadian economy increased by 291,800 jobs. The increase in tourism employment accounted for 65.1% of that overall increase.

From June to July, employment changes by industry group ranged from a loss of 10,100 jobs in transportation to the addition of 110,200 jobs in food and beverage services. As a percentage, the recreation and entertainment industry had the strongest growth, increasing 19.5% relative to June.

Of the added employment, 43.9% were full-time jobs. In the recreation and entertainment and the travel services industries, the growth in full-time jobs was greater than the growth in part-time jobs. In transportation, both full-time and part-time employment decreased.

Because the industry groups that make up tourism are different sizes, looking at the monthly change in employment as a percentage change relative to the previous month provides a more equitable picture of how each industry is doing. It also helps illustrate the size of the employment increases, relative to the employment decreases that occurred in past months.

Employment in all industry groups remains below pre-COVID levels. The recreation and entertainment industry has made up most of March and April’s jobs losses, as employment in that industry is only 3.5% below February levels. The travel services industry has the largest overall employment loss as a percentage of the number of individuals employed in February, down by 38.7%, followed by the transportation industry, which following an employment loss in July has employment levels 30.6% lower than February.

July and August are a peak time in demand and employment for Canada’s tourism sector. Therefore, it is important to compare year-over-year employment, as March is usually a low point for tourism employment, after which jobs are steadily added until an August peak. Under normal circumstances, tourism employment drops again as the summer tourism season ends.

On a year-over-year basis, seasonally unadjusted employment across all Canadian industries was down 6.3% from July 2019. In comparison, tourism employment was down 25.0%. By industry group, year-over-year employment losses in July ranged from 37.9% in transportation to 20.9% in food and beverage services.

In July, tourism employment increased in all provinces. Employment increases ranged from an additional 1,200 jobs added in Prince Edward Island (an increase of 21.1% from June) to an additional 57,800 jobs in Ontario (an increase of 16.9% from a month prior).

Tourism employment in New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador has essentially recovered to pre-COVID levels, while Prince Edward Island had slightly higher employment in July than in February. However, on a year-over-year basis, employment in all provinces remains well below last summer’s levels. New Brunswick’s tourism sector is the closest to normal employment levels, being “only” 12.4% below the level of employment for July 2019. Prince Edward Island, Ontario, and Saskatchewan are the farthest from last year’s July employment levels, at -38.4%, -35.2% and -34.8%, respectively.

The overall and tourism unemployment rates decreased in July. Tourism unemployment fell to 18.7%. By tourism industry group, the unemployment rate was highest in travel services, at 27.2%.

In July 2020, the unemployment rate was 14.0 percentage points higher than the rate reported in July 2019, and lower than the previous month (June 2020) when the unemployment rate stood at 25.0%. At 18.7%, tourism’s unemployment rate was above Canada’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 11.2%.

The unemployment rate dropped in four of the five industry groups that make up the tourism sector, while it rose in the transportation industry.

Unemployment Rate
Tourism Industry Group[1]

July 2019

June 2020

July 2020

Tourism 4.7% 25.0% 18.7%
Accommodations 3.4% 30.3% 25.7%
Food & Beverage Services 5.9% 25.8% 17.0%
Recreation & Entertainment 5.0% 27.8% 20.6%
Transportation 2.9% 14.3% 14.6%
Travel Services N/A 28.1% 27.2%

On a provincial basis, tourism unemployment rates ranged from 10.8% in Saskatchewan to 21.6% in Ontario.

The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates for tourism in each province were above the rates reported for the provincial economy.

Total Actual Hours Worked by Sector

In July, the number of actual hours worked decreased in many sectors, likely due to summer vacations. The number of actual hours worked in tourism-related sectors continued to increase, although not as rapidly as in May and June. In July, the number of actual hours worked increased by 16.8% in the accommodation and food services sector, and by 11.9% in the information, culture and recreation sector.

Back in February, accommodation and food services employees worked over 31 million hours, but this July actual hours worked only totalled 23.6 million hours. Workers in the information, culture and recreation sector worked 22.3 million hours in February. By April, actual hours of work had dropped to 13.6 million hours, but this rebounded to 20.9 million hours in July.

The reduction in hours worked in these two sectors continues to be greater than the reduction in employment. This suggests that there are still individuals employed but not working to full capacity.

Employment by Occupation and Average Annual Earnings

The following chart groups occupations by the average annual earnings of those working in the occupational group. Occupations are grouped into those earning less than $30,000; $30,000 to $50,000; $50,000 to $80,000; and over $80,000.

Initial employment losses (March and April) were heavily concentrated in occupations where workers earn less than $50,000 a year on average. By April, employment dropped by 992,000 jobs in occupations that earn less than $30,000 per year, and by over 1.2 million in occupations earning between $30,000 and $50,000. The two highest earning categories lost a total of 707,600 between them.

While initial employment losses were mostly in lower-earning occupations, those occupations have seen a greater recovery as well. In July, the number of individuals employed in occupations earning less than $30K were 376,700 fewer than in February, followed by occupations in the $50K to $80K range (-283,300), and $30K to $50K (-249,900). The number of employed individuals working in occupations with average annual earnings above $80K was 62,300 higher than in February.

Still, as of July, the two lowest earning categories made up almost three quarters of employment losses since February, and jobs within these earnings categories are most at risk should employment decline in the fall due to slowing demand or a resurgence of COVID-19.

The Fall 2020 Outlook

Employment has increased significantly as restrictions on businesses have lifted. A further employment increase in August is expected, but growth is then likely to slow. The normal yearly trend is for tourism employment to decline between the 3rd and 4th quarters of the year. While the overall tourism employment decline is not large in percentage terms—averaging -5.9% over the last decade—the trend is much more noticeable in certain industries, such as accommodation, and in provinces such as Prince Edward Island, where the seasonal drop in tourism employment from Q3 to Q4 averaged -29.3% over the past decade.

As of the release of this report, the Canadian border will remain closed until at least September 21, but it is unlikely to open until much later in the year or even not before 2021. Any employment growth this autumn will need to be driven by demand from locals and Canadians travelling within the country. With the border closed, domestic tourism demand could increase because Canadians who would normally travel to another country may choose to travel within this country between September and December.

The tourism sector is facing very significant headwinds, yet the sector remains innovative and resilient. One current example: although patio dining usually becomes less appealing in cold weather, restaurants are making investments in heat lamps to extend the outdoor dining season. The tourism sector as a whole will need to muster all of its innovation and resiliency—and will require the support of Canadians—if it is to continue to recover this fall.


[1] As defined by the Canadian Tourism Satellite Account. The NAICS industries included in the tourism sector are those that would cease to exist or operate at a significantly reduced level of activity as a direct result of an absence of tourism.

Tourism HR Canada would like to extend its thanks to the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, and the Government of Canada on their appointment of Marsha Walden as President and CEO of Destination Canada.

The Tourism HR Canada team offers its sincere congratulations to Marsha on her new role leading Canada’s national tourism marketing organization. Tourism HR Canada is eager to build on its longstanding relationship with Destination Canada and support the agency as the tourism community navigates the challenges brought about by the current global pandemic.

“I am excited by today’s announcement and warmly wish Marsha the best in this well-deserved appointment,” stated Philip Mondor, President and CEO of Tourism HR Canada. “Marsha brings a wealth of experience and a passion for the tourism sector, as demonstrated through her successes during her recent tenure as President and CEO of Destination British Columbia. We look forward to working more closely with her and the Destination Canada team as our entire sector collaborates to reopen Canada’s vibrant tourism businesses and boost the resiliency of its world-class workforce.”

Tourism HR Canada will continue to provide the latest labour market insights to complement Destination Canada’s robust marketing research, as well as offer resources, tools, and training to ensure Canada’s tourism workforce is equipped to deliver on the incredible experiences promoted by Destination Canada—whether locally while restrictions remain in place or internationally as we once again welcome visitors from around the globe.

For more information on Marsha Walden’s appointment, please click here to read the Government of Canada announcement and here to read the Destination Canada announcement.

As published in Canadian Lodging News

Tourism HR Canada Board Member Joe Baker says that as we reopen our businesses, let’s not underestimate the impact our workers have on our guests and clients. And let’s not underestimate the toll this pandemic and the return to work has had on the mental health and emotional wellbeing of our workforce. 

When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in mid-March of 2020, Canadians self-isolated in their homes as much as possible in an effort to contain the spread of the virus. We were quickly asked to modify our routines and postpone anything that was non-essential, especially anything that involved close interactions with others. While this isolation along with social distancing and eventually mask wearing ‘flattened the curve’ quite effectively, it had some unintended consequences.  Not only did hospitality, retail and other service workers start to become recognized as the essential workers we all knew they were; we also started to see an erosion of the overall mental health and wellbeing of Canadians. Isolation, stress and uncertainty combined with the health threats of COVID-19 all started taking a toll on the Canadian psyche.

Could Canada’s Hospitality and Tourism Industry Contribute to Positive Wellbeing?

For those of us who have dedicated our careers to the hospitality and tourism industry, it is not hard to understand how profoundly we impact our guests and clients with our service-centred experiences. But has anyone ever aggregated the total number of service interactions Canada’s tourism industry impresses upon the citizens of our nation and of our visitors?  And did the isolation orders and social distancing expose just how vital hospitality and tourism experiences are for the positive wellbeing of the people we serve?  I believe so.

The Basics of Emotional Intelligence

Psychologist and author Daniel Goleman defines Emotional Intelligence or EQ as the ability to recognize and manage your own emotions, and those of the people around you. People with high levels of EQ understand what their emotions mean and most importantly understand how they impact those around them. You see why this is becoming so critical for service or businesses under pressure.  And the most attractive part about EQ is that with training, development and guidance, people can improve the five key elements of EQ: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.

Incorporating Emotional Intelligence into Our Training

As we re-open our businesses, let’s not underestimate the impact our workers have on our guests and clients. And let’s not underestimate the toll this pandemic and the return to work has had on the mental health and emotional wellbeing of our workforce. So, in an effort to positively contribute to both, perhaps there is a window opening for a more pronounced focus on emotional intelligence within our training environments and the development of emotional and social skills to complement our workforce’s reliance on the occupational skills they’ve acquired over the years.

Joe Baker has recently joined OTEC as a Systems Leadership and Integrated Strategy Advisor.  He will be focusing on supporting tourism industry recovery efforts in collaboration with the many organizations involved in several active projects and initiatives.  He is an experienced speaker, facilitator and writer.  Contact him at: jbaker@otec.org

Tourism has been severely limited since COVID-19 closed international borders. Statistics Canada’s tracking of travel to and from Canada showed that international travel came to a standstill by the end of March, with trips to Canada by travellers from abroad down 54.2% from February. International travel remained low in May, the latest month for which complete data is available, as arrivals from the United States were down 96.6% from May 2019 and arrivals from other countries were down 97.9%.[1] Leading indicators of cross-border travel and air arrivals for June indicate that little change in these trends should be expected this summer.

The impact on the tourism sector has been massive. The food services industry saw the value of sales decline from just under $6.3 billion in February to $2.3 billion in March before rebounding to $3.1 billion in May.[2] On average, the restaurant industry gets about 20% of its demand from tourists. The industry has capacity to rebound with increasing demand from locals, but social distancing requirements will limit demand due to reduced numbers of customers.

Industries that rely more on travellers face significant challenges. Hotel occupancy data available from STR shows that weekly occupancy dropped below 15.0% in April and had only recovered to 35.4% as of the week ending July 25.[3]

This data only shows the demand drivers on some industries within the tourism sector. Recreation facilities and museums are also struggling to reopen. Some have chosen not to open as it is a better financial choice to avoid the cost of opening when demand is so low. However, businesses with fixed costs related to rent and maintenance cannot as easily balance their operational costs.

Between June 10 and July 12, Tourism HR Canada fielded the COVID-19 Tourism Workforce Impact Survey and collected 605 responses from tourism operators across Canada. Responses were received from all provinces and the territories, as well as 28 responses from national businesses that were providing information for locations across provincial boundaries.

The survey was designed to measure the effect COVID-19 had had on tourism businesses’ operating status, their ability to operate this summer, their staffing needs, and other challenges, as well as their ability to access government supports such as the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund.

The results show that only a fraction of tourism businesses are operating at full capacity. Many remain closed and many intend to remain closed this summer. Those that have reopened or expanded operations since the strictest COVID-19 containment measures were lifted are hiring back former staff, but employment is expected to remain well below the levels seen in 2019.

Despite many people out of work, some businesses are still concerned they will be challenged to find workers this summer, and they also face challenges adapting to the new protocols and regulations they must abide by.

Most businesses are finding ways to adapt, however, and many are utilizing or plan to utilize available support programs such as the Canadian Emergency Wage subsidy. Over half of respondents had applied for coverage, with almost all being approved. A smaller number of respondents utilized the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund, due to a lack of awareness of the program or because they had already been able to access the Canadian Emergency Business Account.

Click here to explore the COVID-19 Tourism Workforce Impact Report (Preliminary Findings).


[1] Statistics Canada, Travel between Canada and other Countries, May 2020

[2] Statistics Canada, Food services and drinking places, May 2020

[3] STR, STR: Canada hotel results for week ending 25 July, https://str.com/press-release/str-canada-hotel-results-week-ending-25-july

Pan-Canadian Leadership to Shape and Support a Skilled, Resilient Tourism Workforce

Ottawa, Ontario  – Tourism HR Canada is pleased to announce today the appointment of four tourism champions to its Board of Directors.

Joining the Tourism HR Canada Board are:

  • Krista Bax, CEO, go2HR
  • Juanita Ford, Chief Operating Officer, Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Tracey Kalimeris, Vice President, Talent & Culture, Accor, North & Central America
  • Beth Potter, President and CEO, Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO)

The Directors will help guide the organization in fulfilling its mandate to build a world-leading tourism workforce and offer leadership as it supports the hard-hit sector in recovering and building resiliency in the face of COVID-19. They will be welcomed to the Board at its next meeting, September 17, 2020.

“These tourism leaders bring highly valued competencies to our Board,” states Philip Mondor, President & CEO, Tourism HR Canada. “Their advocacy on behalf of the tourism sector, passion for human resources, strategic planning skills, and excellence in management complement the skills offered by fellow Directors. We welcome their diverse perspectives and fresh ideas at a time when the tourism landscape has been drastically altered.”

Krista Bax is a strategic leader who was recently appointed the CEO for go2HR, British Columbia’s tourism human resource and health and safety association. The organization plays a lead role in executing the province’s Tourism Human Resources Strategy. She has worked with various sector councils and is experienced in labour market economics, skills training, health and safety, Indigenous relations, strategic planning, and marketing.

“It is a privilege to be appointed to the Tourism HR Canada Board of Directors and join such accomplished tourism leaders,” shares Krista Bax. “I want to contribute to Tourism HR Canada’s pivotal and important role in identifying and addressing national labour market issues so in every community across Canada, tourism businesses have enough skilled workers to provide guests with exceptional, safe experiences and Canadians have good jobs. I am excited to carry forward the great work of Tourism HR Canada into all corners of BC and bring my experience from other industries in crisis to contribute to tourism’s short- and long-term workforce recovery efforts.”

Juanita Ford is a leader in the tourism industry, with a focus on human resources and industry development. At Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador, Juanita leads the organization in strategic planning, marketing, revenue generation, and project management, working closely with the Hospitality NL Board of Directors and other industry stakeholders throughout the country. Hospitality NL is a non-profit membership association that leads, supports, represents, and enhances the province’s tourism industry.

“I have worked closely with the board and staff Tourism HR Canada for over 25 years to grow a professional and dynamic tourism workforce,” says Juanita Ford. “I am excited to return to the Board to address the current challenges and changes facing the industry and those who work in it.”

Tracey Kalimeris is a senior human resources leader translating business needs into human resource initiatives to improve performance and profitability. Tracey ensures the successful operation of the Talent & Culture function within hotel operations across North & Central America for Accor, a hospitality business with more than 30 brands, 80 partnerships, and over 5,000 hotels in 110 countries. She is also a member of the Policy Advisory Board at the University of Guelph.

Beth Potter is a strategic leader and planner, advocating on myriad issues affecting the tourism industry. Since 2011, she has been President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO), which represents 189,000 tourism businesses and 400,000 employees across Ontario. She brings extensive experience working in the not-for-profit sector and as a member of several Boards and tourism groups.

“I’m delighted to join the board of Tourism HR Canada as I firmly believe in the work the organization undertakes,” states Beth Potter. “Our workforce is why tourism is one of the largest industries in Canada, and we need to ensure that it remains strong, professional and above global standards.”

The Tourism HR Canada Board comprises a cross-sectional representation of all stakeholders of the Canadian tourism sector, including national and provincial/territorial associations, education/research, and business.

Tourism HR Canada would like to extend its thanks and best wishes to outgoing Directors Shanna Munro, former President and CEO of Restaurants Canada, and Christine Willow, former partner/owner of Chemistry Consulting Group, for their guidance and expertise.

Our Tourism Workforce Recovery Toolkit offers a wide range of advice, resources, and guidance to help tourism operators safely navigate the gradual reopening of communities and businesses.

As the situation across Canada is constantly changing in response to fluctuations in cases, regional needs, and new research, the Toolkit will be regularly updated to reflect this reality and be as current as possible.

We’ve added a series of printable checklists to the Toolkit, providing tourism business owners with quick and clear reference documents to help them with a wide variety of changes to the workforce and business operations.

As a preview, we’re highlighting some of these checklists here. For the full range of materials, visit TourismRecovery.ca.

Tapping into New Visitor Markets Checklist

Focusing on the Domestic Traveller

International visitor markets will be slow to return, and tourism businesses need to look locally. This involves getting a good understanding of the local market and what it means to adapt the type of product or service offered. This checklist is a framework to help business owners revisit business strategies to attract domestic markets.

Define your new visitor markets:

  • Who is your new customer? Ask yourself:
    – Where do they live; how far is it from your business?
    – What is their demographic/socioeconomic profile (e.g., age, income, education level, ethnic group, religious affiliation)?
    – What is their psychographic profile (e.g., attitudes, values, beliefs, interests, lifestyle preferences)?
    – Is this market growing or shrinking?
    – What trends do they follow?
  • What are your new customer’s needs? Ask yourself:
    – What type of travel (e.g., family holiday, business)?
    – What are their buying habits and interests?
    – Why would they be interested in what you have to offer; what differentiates you from the competition?
    – Do they require special accommodations?
  • How can you meet those needs?

Get to know more about the target market and what you offer:

  • Who uses your current product or service?
  • Does your new target market have a need for what you offer, or how does it need to change?
  • What is important to them (e.g., personal health, enjoying the outdoors, professional success, family time)?
  • What are their lifestyle habits (e.g., healthy diet, exercise, avid reader, sedentary)?
  • What would the new target market be willing to pay?
  • What other products or services would they need or be interested in?

Get to know your competition:

  • Who are they?
  • Where are they located?
  • What products and services do they offer?
  • How do your products differ from your competitors’?
  • What is their image or brand profile?
  • What are they doing to attract the same target market?
  • What is their current share of the market?
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • Can you establish a competitive advantage?

After analysis of the new market you are targeting, decide:

  • Is it feasible to go after the new market?
  • Are there alternative markets to consider?
  • Do you need to change what you have to offer for the target market?
  • Is there community support for the revival of tourism?

Enticing the domestic market:

  • How will you get your new target market to know about your company? What promotion tactics are best to reach them?
  • What are your customer service tactics for cultivating and sustaining new markets?

Click here to download a printable version of this checklist.

Click here for more workforce management resources on TourismRecovery.ca.