Author: Tourism HR Canada

Tourism HR Canada recently released a new report, The Future of Canada’s Tourism Sector: Growth Aspirations Face Labour Challenges. As part of the research that led to this report, the Conference Board of Canada surveyed 400 tourism businesses across Canada. This Tourism Outlook and Labour Issues Survey gathered data on the issues affecting these businesses, including those related to labour. The survey asked about recent business performance and their expectations for the coming years.

The most significant challenges facing tourism businesses? Increasing operational costs and labour issues, reported by 69.0% and 63.3% of respondents, respectively. Other issues were reported to be challenging by a much smaller number of businesses. The third most prominent issue was the lack of prioritization of tourism in government policy decisions (reported by 31.5% of respondents), followed by concerns about the Canadian economy (27.3%), and concerns about competition from the sharing economy (26.3%).

Respondents who indicated that labour was a significant challenge were asked to rate specific issues as having a high, medium, or low impact on their business. According to respondents, a number of issues were having a significant effect on their businesses. The most impactful was the problem of finding qualified, reliable employees: 85.5% of respondents indicated this was a problem for their business. Respondents also reported that the wage expectations of potential employees were too high and that there was a shortage of skilled labour in their local area. Tourism businesses were additionally dealing with a lack of interest in tourism jobs amongst young workers and struggles retaining staff.

For the accommodations industry, the most difficult occupations for which to find and retain staff were housekeepers and cooks. Within the food and beverage services industry, cooks, kitchen helpers, and executive chefs were most difficult. More than 52.3% of accommodations industry respondents reported difficulties recruiting and retaining housekeeping room attendants, up from 44.0% in 2015. In food and beverage services, 46.4% of respondents indicated they had difficulty recruiting and retaining cooks.

Respondents were also asked to identify the number of positions they wanted to fill at their establishment and the number of positions for which they were able to find workers, indicating how many positions remained vacant. Positions were divided into two types: existing positions that had been vacated due to turnover of existing staff and new positions that business owners wanted to create to accommodate expanding demand for their services. The results revealed that 9.8% of positions vacated due to turnover go unfilled, while 16.3% of newly created positions remained vacant. Food and beverage services businesses had the hardest time filling new positions, while recreation and entertainment businesses reported the greatest vacancy among positions created by turnover.

Almost half (47.0%) of tourism businesses reported increased revenues for 2018 (compared to 2017). Despite this, only 32.6% reported that business conditions improved compared with 2017. In fact, perceptions regarding business conditions were nearly evenly split between those who thought conditions improved (32.6%), stayed the same (34.4%), or weakened (30.6%) in 2018.
Increasingly problematic labour issues may cause the perceived weakening of business conditions in spite of increasing revenue. When asked about the tangible impacts tourism businesses face due to labour issues, respondents said that they caused increased labour costs, which in turn force them to raise prices, which curtails demand. They also cause businesses to scale back on the services they offer and what services they do offer may be reduced in quality.

Under these conditions, businesses are concerned about long-term reputational damage—which they may see as undermining their long-term viability.

Looking forward, a large share of respondents expects the challenges they face today to prevail. Looking at the next three to five years, 78.3% of businesses expect operational costs to be a significant challenge and 69.5% expect labour issues to be a significant challenge.

The findings of this survey were used to shape the final projections of labour supply and demand in Canada’s tourism sector. Those projections show 93,000 jobs that could exist due to demand by 2035 going unfilled because there are not enough workers to fill those jobs. The demand that goes unmet due to these shortages will leave $10.1 billion in tourism revenue on the table—that’s 3.2% of all revenues that the tourism sector could earn over the study’s forecast horizon.

The full results of the survey, including information on expectations for tourism demand over the next 12 months, can be found in the full report, The Future of Canada’s Tourism Sector: Growth Aspirations Face Labour Challenges, available from emerit.ca.

For more information on the study and its results, download the free national summary or purchase our Rapid reSearch tool to access data on expected shortages by region, industry and occupation.

The Destination Employment program now has a dedicated online space to help connect newcomers with hotel employment and hoteliers with job seekers. Tourism HR Canada and the Hotel Association of Canada, together with regional delivery partners, are delighted to announce this new microsite, destinationemployment.ca.

Launched last year in five regions across the country, the three-year pilot program provides skills and language training to newcomers to Canada, while also offering onboarding and mentorship resources to hoteliers.

Properties in Yukon, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada who have joined the program are finding skilled staff to fill ongoing job vacancies resulting from a national labour shortage. Newcomers, including refugees, who have completed the training are finding rewarding employment in supportive workplaces.

Available in both English and French, the website features fresh graphics and user-friendly navigation. Visitors to the site will find:

  • A clear overview of program benefits and the application process
  • Details on where the program is offered and by whom
  • Career profiles and pathways for numerous accommodations positions
  • Success stories from program participants—newcomers and employers
  • Videos highlighting the careers of successful tourism professionals from diverse backgrounds
  • FAQs and an online contact form to connect with the appropriate regional delivery partner

Also launched was a brand new success story featuring Destination Employment graduate Mary Grace Ordaniel of Dawson City, Yukon. Originally from the Philippines, she is pursuing a hospitality career at the Eldorado Hotel. She joins program grads from Toronto and Halifax in sharing how the Destination Employment program has helped set them on the path to achieving their goals in Canada.

Watch Mary Grace’s story here.

(Regardez la vidéo française ici.)

Another Yukon success story will be released in the coming weeks. Sign up for Tourism HR Insider to be the first to know.

By the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada

The RISE project team was honoured to have been a part of the world’s largest International Indigenous Tourism Conference (IITC) last week in Kelowna, BC. In order for the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) and Tourism HR Canada to provide Canada’s Indigenous tourism industry with the support that it requires, the RISE project aims to develop an accreditation program to help businesses and entrepreneurs in assessing and increasing their market-readiness while recognizing those that offer quality authentic experiences.

There has been great feedback and support for the RISE project so far. Here is what we’ve heard so far from the RISE survey, which was presented at the conference:

  • 90% believe that nationally recognized standards for Indigenous tourism should celebrate different readiness models
  • 94% believe that recognized standards can help guide our industry in achieving consistent, authentic Indigenous tourism experiences
  • 99% believe that the proposed recognition program should include tools and support for the industry

Your voice will continue to help guide our development process. We still would like to hear your thoughts about the RISE project, a new standards-based recognition program specifically designed to support the development and growth of Indigenous tourism in Canada. If you are interested in sharing your thoughts by participating in a one-on-one phone interview with our project team, simply click the link below and follow the instructions to choose an interview date and timeslot that work best for you.

Click here to schedule an interview.

Otherwise, please take five minutes to complete the online survey for a chance to win at $250 Visa gift card!

For more information regarding RISE, please contact ProjectRISE@IndigenousTourism.ca.

Si vous désirez recevoir cette information en français, veuillez communiquer avec l’équipe de projet en utilisant l’adresse courriel ci-dessus.

World University Service of Canada LogoTourism HR Canada was contacted by the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) to be a part of its Pathways to Employment for Refugees (PER) project as an advisory committee member. The PER project shares similarities with Tourism HR Canada’s Destination Employment project, which seeks to connect newcomers to Canada and hotel employers. Both projects are funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

The PER pilot will build on WUSC’s experience with the Student Refugee Program and Camosun College’s experience delivering employment skills training in Kenya and Canada.

Tourism HR Canada sees this partnership as a perfect fit to achieve a common goal of addressing labour shortages in the hospitality industry and helping newcomers to Canada acquire sustainable jobs in hotels upon arrival.

Following this invitation was an advisory committee consultation that was held November 5 to 8, 2019, in Victoria, BC.

The primary objectives of the consultation meeting were as follows:

  • To formally meet with the advisory committee members and provide updates on the project so far
  • To identify and meet with potential employers and stakeholders for the project
  • To formally launch the project and sign a partnership agreement with Camosun College
  • To brainstorm on immediate next steps on the project

Tourism HR Canada is pleased to be a part of this project and lauds the government through IRCC for providing a platform for industry players to work collaboratively towards a common goal.

For future updates on this and other employment initiatives, be sure to subscribe to Tourism HR Insider.

Canada’s tourism sector has the potential for significant growth in the coming decades, as both a contributor to the economy and a source of employment for Canadians. However, a key hurdle persists: the labour challenges tourism operators face, especially in rural and remote regions.

Sixty-three percent of tourism businesses report that labour issues are a struggle for their business, with problems ranging from difficulty finding qualified staff, to local labour shortages, to difficulty retaining reliable employees.

As Canada’s source for tourism labour market intelligence, Tourism HR Canada is pleased to announce the release of the latest update of its tourism labour supply and demand study, The Future of Canada’s Tourism Sector – Bottom Line: Growth Aspirations Face Labour Challenges. The study quantifies the implications of long-term demographic and economic trends on the supply and demand for labour in Canada’s tourism sector.

The full report is now available on our emerit.ca website. The national summary is available as a free download on tourismhr.ca.

Key Facts:

  • In 2015, the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey showed there were 22,320 vacant full-year jobs in Canada’s tourism sector.
  • Spending by tourists and residents in Canada’s tourism sector could reach $338 billion by 2035, requiring 2.3 million jobs to meet that demand.
  • The past few years have seen an increase in the number of immigrants coming to Canada each year. This policy change has mitigated the number of jobs expected to go unfilled, but it has not eliminated the labour shortfall facing tourism.
  • By 2035, the tourism sector could see 93,000 full-year jobs go unfilled, equal to $10.1 billion in potential revenue.

The bottom line is that labour challenges are impeding the growth of the sector. The results show that labour challenges are a real barrier and reducing the tourism sector’s growth potential. The consequences of labour shortages, such as lack of investor interest in the sector and the inability of tourism businesses to meet demand, could cost Canada billions of dollars.

While the outlook may seem bleak, the projected shortfalls are not inevitable. The projections assume that the attractiveness of tourism occupations, job responsibilities, wages, and access to training and education programs will remain constant. This will not necessarily be the case.

Action on the part of governments, the sector as a whole, and individual businesses can significantly increase the number of available tourism workers. This is demonstrated by an addition to this year’s report, which examines the impact of the increases to annual immigration intakes (announced in November 2017). This counterfactual scenario demonstrates how policy decisions can affect labour market outcomes. While the sector is still faced with finding people to fill 93,000 tourism jobs, higher immigration means the shortage outlook is much less acute than it was in 2015. Over the forecast horizon in this report, that policy change is expected to fill 44,000 tourism jobs that would have otherwise gone unfilled.

While this report focuses on the future of demand and supply of labour in the tourism sector, it also examines several other subjects, including the results of the 2018-19 Tourism Outlook and Labour Issues Survey, potential job openings in tourism, and the effect of the sharing economy on tourism. Look for more information in coming issues of Tourism HR Insider.

The first week of November saw 17 industry leaders in the field of human resources travel to Ottawa, in order to inform the pillar of the Future Skills Framework that brings together competencies relating to finding—and keeping—talent within the tourism sector.

Over the course of two days, the participants provided Tourism HR Canada with vital feedback on the current realities facing HR in tourism, as well as upcoming challenges and how these will affect recruitment and retention over the coming years.

Over the course of December, three more focus groups will take place in Vancouver, Toronto, and Halifax—bringing a further wealth of feedback to the framework ahead of the new year.

We will hold further sessions in 2020 to make sure the framework incorporates feedback from across the industry. If you are a tourism professional who would like to be part of future-proofing the industry’s labour market, please join our network of experts by completing this short survey.

This session contributed towards the FUTURE SKILLS FRAMEWORK, a multi-year project aiming to develop a comprehensive framework to redress the skills and labour mismatches in tourism while aiding job seekers, educators, and governments to better understand the skills and competencies employers are looking for. To learn more about the project, click here.

(seasonally unadjusted)

In October 2019, the unemployment rate1 in the tourism sector was at 4.6%, which is 0.3 percentage points higher than the rate reported in October 2018, and higher than the previous month (September 2019), when the unemployment rate stood at 4.5%.

At 4.6%, tourism’s unemployment rate was below Canada’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 5.0%.

With the exception of Recreation & Entertainment and Transportation, all tourism industry groups have reported lower unemployment rates than the same month last year (Table 1).

On a provincial basis, tourism unemployment rates ranged from 3.4% in British Columbia to 8.0% in Nova Scotia.

The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates for tourism in each province, with the exceptions of Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Saskatchewan, were below the rates reported for the provincial economy (Figure 1).

Tourism employment comprised 10.8% of the total Canadian labour force for the month of October.

Table 1 – Employment Rate by Tourism Industry Group – October 2018/2019
Tourism Industry Group2 Unemployment Rate –
October 2018
Unemployment Rate –
October 2019
Tourism 4.3% 4.6%
Accommodations 7.4% 7.0%
Food and Beverage 4.9% 4.9%
Recreation and Entertainment 4.1% 5.0%
Transportation 2.0% 2.9%
Travel Services 3.1% N/A
Figure 1 – Tourism Sector vs. Total Labour Force Unemployment Rates by Province (Seasonally Unadjusted)

1 To determine unemployment rates, industrial (NAICS) classifications are based on the most recent job held within the past year, and are self-identified by the respondent. Unemployed persons are those who, during the reference period, were available for work but were on temporary layoff, were without work, or were to start a new job within four weeks.

2 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. Source: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey, customized tabulations. Based on data for the week ending October 19, 2019.

In a report on travel destination trends for LGBTQ2 travel in 2019, Travel Pulse selected just one Canadian city in its ‘top 30’ destinations: Montreal.

While the recognition does represent a foothold into this burgeoning market, a new initiative aims to increase Canada’s national profile as a premier tourism destination for the LGBTQ2 market: one where LGBTQ2 customers are respected, welcomed, and can socialize and travel safely.

Tourism HR Canada and principal project partner CGLCC, Canada’s LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce, along with many provincial and local labour market partners, will deliver diversity workshops and assist tourism businesses with how to effectively understand, value, and serve LGBTQ2 customers and employees.

Funded as part of the Government of Canada’s Canadian Experience Fund and delivered via the six Regional Development Agencies, this pan-Canadian initiative runs from September 2019 to March 2021. It builds on a successful series of workshops CGLCC conducted across Canada in March 2019.

The project aims to deliver a responsive, comprehensive, and sustainable LGBTQ2 Tourism Market Ready Program that will help businesses and communities welcome a lucrative and fast-growing LGBTQ2 market. It will additionally reinforce objectives set out by Canada’s Federal Tourism Growth Strategy, which identifies the LGBTQ2 market as a priority.

LGBTQ2 tourism is an opportunity for economic development with great potential for profitable, long-term products and services. By strengthening Canada’s tourism markets, this project will also contribute to the increase of well-paid, stable tourism jobs across the country, including in rural areas. LGBTQ2 tourism helps businesses and communities reach new market segments as a means for increasing competitiveness. The UN World Tourism Organization states that LGBTQ2 travellers are recognized as travelling with greater frequency and with higher-than-average spending. The global market is valued at US$200 billion annually.

Over the next two months, Tourism HR Canada will work with CGLCC to identify regional stakeholders and assess the uniqueness of each region to develop plans for delivery. If your tourism business would like to be a part of this exciting project, please contact Tourism HR Canada.

Subscribe to Tourism HR Insider for announcements on workshop dates and locations.

By 2032, immigrants will be responsible for 100% of Canada’s population growth. Today, without immigration, Canada’s labour force would be shrinking, as the number individuals retiring is greater than the number of school leavers entering the labour force.

Under such circumstances, immigration is a vitally important subject. Tourism HR Canada recently attended the Conference Board of Canada’s National Immigration Centre meeting both to present and to learn about how to better help new Canadians integrate into the labour force.

Participants discussed a range of topics, including:

  • The current economic outlook for Canada
  • The challenges faced by women and racialized immigrants
  • The difficulty in getting foreign credentials recognized and how to help new Canadians to continue to work in their chosen field
  • Investor and entrepreneur immigration systems
  • The potential impact of AI on the labour force
  • The unique vulnerability faced by immigrants and visible minorities in a shifting labour market

Tourism HR Canada participated in a panel speaking to the tourism perspective on labour market issues and immigration. Tourism relies heavily on immigrants to fill the 1.8 million jobs that exist within the sector. While 23.8% of all jobs in the full labour force are filled by new Canadians, they fill 26% of jobs in tourism. In the accommodation industry specifically, they fill almost 32% of all available jobs.

With the number of young people in the labour force declining, jobs vacancies growing, and tourism unemployment running approximately 1 percentage point below the unemployment rate for the labour force, the sector will look to new Canadians to support future growth.

However, new Canadians may require supports, such as Tourism HR Canada’s Destination Employment program, to enter the labour force. As the number of immigrants coming to Canada has grown in recent years, so has the number seeking additional language and workplace training to help enter the labour market.

The panel discussed the opportunities presented by Destination Employment, a three-year pilot project funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and coordinated nationally by Tourism HR Canada in partnership with the Hotel Association of Canada. With partners in five regions (Yukon, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada), the program seeks to employ 1,300 newcomers in a range of hotel jobs and, by testing what methods of assessment and training work best, identify a model that is scalable and could be applied to other industries.

As part of its strategy to build a resilient and inclusive labour market, Tourism HR Canada will continue to collaborate with stakeholders in helping tourism businesses to attract and retain this key demographic.

For a detailed look at Canada’s tourism workforce, download our free Demographic Group Summaries.

Joe Baker, Dean, School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts, Centennial College
Joe Baker, Dean, School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts, Centennial College

By Joe Baker, Dean, School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts, Centennial College

According to Tourism HR Canada, tourism is a $90 billion industry that employs over 1.8 million workers, outpacing many other industries in the country. As Canada’s share of the global tourism market increases, so does the need for a highly skilled workforce. At Centennial, we see this as an opportunity to build a workforce that meets the skills required for the future of work in tourism. How do we do this? By learning from the source.

Last week, Philip Mondor, president and CEO of Tourism HR Canada, facilitated a two-day workshop at Centennial College on the future of work in the tourism sector. The event provided our faculty with an insight into the current and future labour market issues. It also offered an introduction to the Future Skills Framework and competency-based learning. Understanding the needs and challenges of the industry allows us to tailor our curriculum. By critically mapping programs against competency frameworks and closing any gaps, we ensure that our grads are prepared for the future success of working in tourism.

Canada’s position on the global tourism market, as well as its global standing and competitiveness, is largely dependent on its ability to attract, develop and retain talent. Education needs to play a role in this talent pipeline. There is a need to increase the understanding of the tourism industry’s economic and social importance among businesses, industry, governments and educators.

How do we as Canadian educators address these issues? By creating a curriculum that immerses students in real-life experiences. These include work-integrated learning opportunities, events, competitions, field trips, workshops and all things connected to the industry. We need to ignite a passion for tourism within our students and help them see the industry as a viable and rewarding place to pursue their careers. We also need to ensure that their passion can be matched with opportunities for career development.

We pride ourselves on the fact that our faculty members come to us directly from the industry.  Their direct knowledge and experience ensure that our tourism-focused programs are relevant to the needs of employers. As educators, we have to be equipped with knowledge of current trends, standards and needs of the industry. With that knowledge our faculty can challenge their own assumptions and the system itself. Together we can address the needs of the industry and guarantee its success.

Collaborating closely with partners like Tourism HR Canada enables us to identify current needs and create programming that makes a difference. This way, we can shape the future workforce of the Canadian tourism industry within the higher education institutions across the country.


Tourism HR Canada thanks Joe Baker for this contribution and insight. Centennial College offers two SMART + Premium Programs–accreditation that recognizes they meet or exceed industry standards. Find out more here.