Author: Tourism HR Canada

Launched last month, the 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 was designed to be regularly updated to reflect this reality and be as current as possible.

Today, a series of printable checklists were added 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 part of the launch, we’re highlighting one of these checklists here. For the full range of materials, visit

Rethinking Work, Workforce, and Workplace Checklist

Responding to COVID-19 Impacts & the New Normal

Workforce planning is the cornerstone of a viable tourism business. Tourism relies on its people to deliver the experience; without them, tourism lacks heart and meaning. COVID-19 has had profound impacts on the workforce. Subsequently, employers need to completely overhaul their human resource practices and policies. Regardless of the size of business, these workforce plans need to factor in the types of new skills and the ever-changing work environments that are being implemented because of COVID-19.

Tourism employers can expect a gradual and slow recovery period. This will impact businesses in ways that are unfamiliar, such as changing business models, adapting or developing new products and services, or learning to work with fewer workers and rely more on technology to augment or enhance the services provided. Perhaps the most profound impact of COVID-19 on tourism businesses has to do with the impact on workers. More than ever, the pandemic underscores the need for a resilient workforce that is quick to adapt. Tourism, after all, is dependent on the human dimension—it’s the skilled workforce that delivers on the service promise.

This checklist is intended to help employers rethink, redesign, and optimize their workforce to respond to the future of work.


  • How many employees, and which ones?
    • What will be the composition and size of the workforce you need based on the changes you’re planning to make to your business? How many will be full-time, part-time or casual workers?
    • Think about your needs in the short term (perhaps 2 – 4 months) and the longer term (such as 5 – 12 months)
    • Is there a possibility of maintaining or increasing the number of employees working remotely?
    • Will there be layoffs?
  • What skills are needed?
    • Do your employees have the skills that are needed?
    • What are the gaps?
    • Look for ways to provide employees with varied, adaptive, and flexible roles so they acquire transferable and cross-functional knowledge and skills
  • Which employees should come back to work and when?
    • Which employees are ready to return? Which ones are not?
    • Do any of the employees require additional supports or accommodations (e.g., special scheduling requirements because of caregiving requirements, a worker that is part of the high-risk group)
  • Are new investments needed to enable workers to be productive? For example:
    • Reconfiguring the workplace to comply with physical distancing and health and safety measures
    • Reskilling or training to prepare workers for new demands, such as cleaning protocols, new or altered tasks, managing staff working remotely, cyber risks, and data protection
    • Retooling or enhancing technology platforms or access to collaboration tools (both at home and in the workplace, to enable people to switch easily between the two)
    • New technology to augment or enhance employee work
  • What are the required changes to HR policies? For example:
    • Procedures for reporting illness
    • Extended absences (e.g., employees in quarantine or self-isolation, paid time off and leave)
    • Workplace accommodation policies
    • Staff travel guidelines
    • Working remotely
    • Privacy law in the context of pandemics and employee and employer rights


  • Prioritizing and emphasizing health, safety, and employee wellbeing, for example:
    • Help ensure employees are confident about their own safety
    • Look for ways to help employees address financial concerns or seek financial assistance, where needed
    • Offer support for workers struggling with mental health
  • Compliance with new protocols (e.g., processes to follow when an employee tests positive for COVID-19 and the implications on guests, other staff, and products)
  • New/expanded health and safety training
  • Telework/telecommuting practices
  • Guidance for high-risk and essential workers
  • Leveraging government programs
  • Clear policies, including:
    • How to address absence due to sickness or caring for relatives
    • Protocols for guests
    • Procedures for reporting illness
  • Impacts of terminating employees
  • Impacts on insurance policies and premiums and other long-standing arrangements employers have with their employees.

Click here to download a printable version of this checklist.

Click here for more workforce management resources on

COVID-19 has impacted all aspects of Canadians’ lives and affected employment across industries and occupations. Almost no segment of the economy has been untouched, but certain groups have been more affected than others.

We know that women and youth have suffered greater employment losses as a percentage of pre-COVID employment levels than men. A recent survey by Statistics Canada showed that while most visible minority groups reported similar rates of job loss or reduced work hours compared to white respondents, the COVID-19 pandemic generally had a stronger impact on visible minority participants’ ability to meet financial obligations or essential needs.[1]

In examining the effect of COVID-19 on employment by average annual earnings, it’s clear that the negative employment effects of COVID-19 have been greatest on those working in jobs with lower average income levels.

Effects Vary Across Earnings Categories

For this analysis, we looked at the change in employment across the economy by two-digit National Occupational Classification (NOC) code, grouping those NOC codes by their average annual earnings. Data on employment comes from the Labour Force Survey. The labour force survey data used here is seasonally unadjusted. Data on the average earning for each NOC code comes from 2016 census data. The NOCs are grouped into four earnings categories:

  1. Less than $30,000 per year
  2. $30,000 and $50,0000 per year
  3. $50,000 to $80,000 per year
  4. Over $80,000 per year

The labour force survey data tracks employment from beginning of the COVID-19 lockdowns through to May, when the strictest aspects of the lockdown started to lift. The data described here can be viewed in the following chart, which allows monthly selections and shows employment decreases (relative to February 2020) for each earnings category and two-digit NOC code.

Figure 1: Occupation Employment Change Compared to February

Employment dropped for three of the four earnings groups in March as shutdowns caused by COVID-19 began to affect Canada. Employment only grew for the highest earnings category, as occupations that earned over $80,000 added 32,800 jobs from February to March.

The initial employment hit in March decreased the number of individuals employed in occupations earning less than $30,000 by over half a million. Employment in occupations earning $30,000 to $50,000 saw the second greatest decrease in March, with 415,000 fewer individuals employed in March than in February.

By April, COVID-19’s negative effect on employment was felt regardless of earnings category. In that month, employment in Canada had decreased by 3 million jobs compared to February. Total employment decreased the most in the second lowest earnings category, dropping by over 1.2 million jobs, while employment in the lowest earnings category fell by just under a million compared to February levels (see Table 1).

Table 1: Employed Individuals by Month and Earnings Category

Under $30K $30K to $50K $50K to $80K Above $80K
February 3,383,700 6,651,900 5,723,300 3,158,300
March 2,867,200 6,236,500 5,562,600 3,190,600
April 2,391,700 5,446,000 5,082,000 3,092,000
May 2,502,500 5,635,300 5,316,000 3,178,100

Detailing Hardest-Hit Occupations

The NOC code with the greatest drop in employment was “service support and other service occupations”. Those employed in this occupational group earn on average less than $30,000 per year. They include food counter attendants, light duty cleaners (such as housekeepers), as well as operators and attendants in amusement, sport, and recreation (which covers most frontline jobs in the recreation and entertainment industry, such as lifeguard and ski lift attendant).

The second greatest employment drop occurred in jobs that fall under the NOC code “service representatives and other customer and personal services occupations”, the occupational category which includes many frontline tourism jobs such as hotel front desk clerks, travel counsellors, and food and beverage servers. On average, this occupational group also earns less than $30,000 per year.

These two occupational groups share certain characteristics. The 2016 census shows that these jobs tend to be filled by young people: 29.7% and 26.5% of workers in the two groups are aged 15 to 25, respectively. These occupational groups also have a relatively high share of part-time workers: 41.2% and 35.5%, respectively.

The occupational group that saw the third largest employment decline by April was “sales representatives and sales persons in wholesale and retail trade”. This group falls into the second lowest earnings category and saw an employment decline of 274,200 jobs. The jobs within this occupational group include most frontline retails sales workers. It also has a high share of young and part-time workers.

Fuller Picture of Employment Decreases

These analyses of employment drops have been in terms of the total number of jobs lost. By this metric, the earnings category of $30,000 to $50,000 has been hardest hit, as the greatest total job losses occurred in occupations with average earnings in this range.

However, the size of each group was not the same at the start of February. There was double the number of individuals employed in jobs earning between $30,000 and $50,000 than individuals in jobs earning less than $30,000 (see Table 1).

Using February as a starting point, we can look at the percentage decrease in employment for each earnings category. In these terms, the lowest earnings category suffered the most acute job losses. By April, almost 30% of jobs in the lowest earnings category had disappeared, compared to an 18.1% employment loss in occupations that earned $30,000 to $50,000 (see Table 2).

Table 2: Percentage Decrease in Employment Compared to February by Earnings Category

 Under $30K $30K to $50K $50K to $80K Above $80K
February 3,383,700 6,651,900 5,723,300 3,158,300
March -15.3% -6.2% -2.8% 1.0%
April -29.3% -18.1% -11.2% -2.1%
May -26.0% -15.3% -7.1% 0.6%

So far, April has been the nadir for employment. Increases in employment were observed across all earnings categories in May. The number of individuals employed in occupations with average earnings greater than $80,000 even crept above February levels after adding 86,100 employed individuals. The greatest employment increase occurred amongst occupations earning $50,000 to $80,000 per year. Employment rose by 234,000 in these occupations. The second lowest earning category added the second highest number of employed individuals (189,300), followed by the lowest earnings category (110,800 jobs added) (see Table 1).

Impact Extends Beyond Young, Part-Time Workers

While May’s employment increase is good news, employment levels remain well below February’s levels and the lowest earnings categories remain the most affected. In terms of total jobs losses, there were 881,000 fewer jobs in the lowest earnings category in May and over a million fewer jobs in the second lowest earnings category. Despite the increase seen in May, employment in those two earning categories remains 26.0% and 15.3% lower than they had been before the lockdowns caused by COVID-19 (see Table 2).

This presents a significant challenge for Canadian society. Because some of these jobs are in fact filled by youth working part-time and include occupations associated with part-time summer employment, there is a risk of dismissing these losses as largely affecting teenagers and students who can fall back on family supports.

To do so would ignore these key facts:

  • More than 70% of those working in the occupations that make up the lowest earning category are 25 years of age or older
  • Over half are over the age of 35, with 34% aged 35 to 54, which is considered prime working age
  • 57% of jobs in this earnings category are full-time jobs

Further, even if the large majority of workers in the lowest earning category were youth working summer jobs, it would be unwarranted to assume those young people are from middle- or upper-class families who have the resources to support them through additional years without employment.

Even for that small share of young people who can fall back on family resources, there are negative consequences. You hop on the career ladder when you start your first job. Even if initial earnings are not high, it represents the starting point for your wage trajectory and your ability to save across the rest of your life. Delaying the starting point, or interrupting that trajectory, has ramifications along your entire career path.

Tourism HR Canada will continue to track employment levels by earnings category for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. The chart in this article will be added to our Tourism Employment Tracker following the release of the June Labour Force Survey.

[1] Economic impact of COVID-19 among visible minority groups, Statistics Canada,

Business-focused toolkit supports Canadian tourism SMEs in navigating COVID-19 recovery and resiliency efforts

Ottawa, ON (June 24, 2020) – Tourism HR Canada today launched the COVID-19 Tourism Workforce Recovery Toolkit to guide the hard-hit industry as it works to recover and build resiliency for the medium to long term.

The COVID-19 Tourism Workforce Recovery Toolkit is a practical, free, web-based program that includes guidelines, workflows, checklists and tools focused on topics like finance, health and safety, human resources and change management to provide action items for tourism operators planning and launching their reopening and recovery efforts. The English version of the COVID-19 Tourism Workforce Recovery Toolkit is now available at; the French version will be released in the coming weeks.

“Since COVID-19 shutdowns began, the tourism industry has been decimated, with nearly 1 million people losing their tourism jobs and most businesses being temporarily closed,” said Philip Mondor, President and CEO of Tourism HR Canada. “With regions slowly allowing businesses and experiences to reopen there is not only hope but a determination to see a rebounding of the once-thriving sector and community as a whole.”

The toolkit includes five modules – Workforce, Communications, Budget & Finance, Marketing and Strategic Planning – and aligns with industry-specific tools already available from key oversight organizations. Each module provides businesses with a roadmap containing actionable tools and tips for implementation, linked to two key themes:

  • Plan: Design and establish policies, procedures and plans for major business and societal disruptions.
  • Respond: Navigate new pressures and address critical questions at the onset of a major disruption; enable rapid response and decision-making to prioritize effectively.

Recognizing there are varying needs and challenges faced within the broader tourism sector, SMEs can access comprehensive industry-specific HR content.

Delivering guidance and instructions for best practices, the contents of the toolkit were developed based on a series of in-depth interviews conducted with SMEs nationwide to understand their current reality and their future needs as the country rebounds from the impact of the pandemic. The toolkit is dynamic and will be updated regularly with new content – all focused on business recovery and resiliency – to reflect new information and market changes. Tourism HR Canada is also partnered with agencies and associations to ensure collaboration and a sharing of tools and resources across platforms to better serve the tourism community.

“The most important conversations taking place are about how to instil confidence in businesses and visitors that it will be economically feasible and safe to re-open and return to travel,” says Mondor. “The best way to do that is to outline a clear set of guidelines to be followed, provide resources and tools to be implemented and create education about how to move forward in these mid- and post-pandemic realities. With businesses following these measures, the public will feel assured that everything is done in order to maintain their health and safety and this will open up the concept of non-essential travel once again.”

The COVID-19 Tourism Workforce Recovery Toolkit was launched earlier today with a webinar hosted by Tourism HR Canada’s President and CEO, Philip Mondor. A recording of the webinar can be found at:


About Tourism HR Canada

Tourism HR Canada is a pan-Canadian organization with a mandate aimed at building a world-leading tourism workforce. Tourism HR Canada facilitates, coordinates and enables human resource development activities that support a globally competitive and sustainable industry and foster the development of a dynamic and resilient workforce. The development of the COVID-19 Tourism Workforce Recovery Toolkit was led by Tourism HR Canada with the support of Alphabet® and Twenty31 Consulting Inc.

Media Contact

Nicole Amiel
Director – Eastern Canada
Beattie Tartan

Destination EmploymentThe Destination Employment program prepares newcomers to Canada for jobs in the accommodations industry—an industry in which employers were often desperately seeking skilled staff to welcome the rapidly growing number of visitors across the country. And then, leading into the final year of the three-year pilot, the pandemic hit.

Regional partners were quick to assess and report back on the impacts of COVID-19 in their area.

Amidst plummeting hotel occupancy rates, closures, and staff reductions, the program sought ways to offer alternative support for its participants—those taking in-class training and those looking to apply their skills.

In-class sessions were cancelled as emergency measures were implemented. Where possible, these were wrapped up remotely. Partners then provided one-on-one support, checking in with Destination Employment graduates and participating employers. They helped newcomers navigate financial support, connected them with free online training, and gauged their needs and the impact of changes to the program.

Efforts then began to move ahead with programming, albeit in different forms.

  • In Ottawa, the YMCA moved forward with online information sessions for interested newcomers.
  • In the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), ACCES Employment was able to adjust its traditional programming and get an online cohort enrolled by end of May; all graduated with important workplace knowledge and employability skills.
  • The Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council (NSTHRC) partnered with Metro Works in Halifax to provide online program orientation in multiple languages for the benefit of newcomers with lower English levels.
  • The Saskatchewan Tourism Education Council (STEC) successfully planned and launched a kitchen helper focused cohort, with both online training and a practical component organized to maintain required physical distancing. STEC is also looking at expansion of the Destination Employment program into rural areas.
  • In Kingston, the Ontario Tourism Education Corporation (OTEC) and local partners are finalizing plans to help newcomers displaced as a result of the pandemic by reaching back out and offering additional training.

Across the country, Destination Employment partners are exploring new opportunities to facilitate access to technology and build the required digital literacy skills to succeed in online learning.

At the national level, Tourism HR Canada is determining how to highlight the transferable skills imparted through the hospitality-focused Destination Employment training, support the displaced workforce, and build connections with program alumni. The organization has initiated meetings with Service Delivery Improvements (SDI) recipients in similar category as Destination Employment. This will promote partnerships, explore opportunities, and share lessons and resources developed over the course of the project. Although no formal partnerships have been established, conversations are moving forward to explore available opportunities.

For more information on the Destination Employment program, including to access the free online Hospitality Essentials courses, please visit

Canada’s tourism sector has been hit hard by the global efforts to keep everyone safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tourism businesses were among the first impacted and face a lengthy recovery. Much uncertainty remains regarding what travel restrictions and recommendations will look like over the coming months. Even locals’ ability to access tourism-related businesses, from restaurants to attractions to accommodations, varies from region to region.

To help shape recovery efforts and ensure we are providing targeted, useful, and timely resources to tourism businesses across the country, Tourism HR Canada has launched the COVID-19 Tourism Workforce Impact Survey.

Your feedback will help us:

  • Determine how deeply the workforce has been affected by COVID-19
  • Assess the effect of government programs like the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RFFF) in mitigating the effects of COVID-19
  • Identify the capacity of tourism businesses to reopen, rehire, and recover as restrictions are lifted
  • Identify the extent to which tourism businesses understand the protocols and policies they are being asked to implement in order to reopen
  • Augment other research and data collected through various means including new data from Statistics Canada.

We appreciate that tourism businesses have been asked to fill out many survey forms and provide various types of information. The research we are suggesting does not appear to be covered elsewhere and will assist us in making policy and program recommendations specific to addressing workforce needs during and post COVID-19.

The consolidated data and analysis will be made available to all participating organizations.

The survey will be live until June 26th.

Take the COVID-19 Tourism Workforce Impact Survey here.

After two months in which tourism employment decreased 43.3%, May saw a reversal, driven by increases in the accommodations, food and beverage services, and recreation and entertainment industries.

Data for the May Labour Force Survey was collected the week of May 10th to 16th, when many provinces were easing restrictions, although most remained in place in Alberta, Ontario, and Nova Scotia.

Employment in the tourism sector increased by 83,900 jobs, following the massive employment loss of 881,700 jobs in March and April. Despite the increase, the number of individuals employed in tourism was 39.2% lower than in February 2020, and 41.2% lower than in May 2019. There were 868,400 fewer people employed in tourism this May than there were one year prior.

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. This May, there was a large gap between the seasonally adjusted and seasonally unadjusted increase in employment (290,000 and 620,500, respectively).

In May, overall employment (unadjusted for seasonality), increased by 620,500. The increase in tourism employment accounted for 13.5% of that increase. This is in contrast to the employment decreases that occurred in March and April, when tourism accounted for 30.3% of employment decreases.

By industry group, the news was mixed. From April to May, employment increased in accommodations (14,100), food and beverage services (52,300), and recreation and entertainment (35,700). However, employment losses continued in transportation (-9,500) and travel services (-8,700).

In the accommodations and recreation and entertainemnt industry groups, employment increases were almost exclusively driven by full-time jobs. In food and beverage services, 62.9% of added jobs were part-time. Overall, 64.6% of the increase in employment was in full-time work.

Among the two industries that saw continued employment losses, 68.7% of the decrease in employment occurred in full-time positions.

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 has been affected. It also helps illustrate the size of the employment increases, relative to the employment decreases that occurred previously.

With the addition of May’s employment losses, the travel services industry group has the largest overall employment loss as a percent of the number of individuals employed in February. Despite an increase in employment of 11.0% between April and May, the food and beverage services industry has the second largest overall employment loss since February (-45.2%). The accommodations, recreation and entertainment, and transportation industry groups have all lost around 32% of employment since February.

In May, tourism employment increased in all provinces except for Saskatchewan, which recorded a decrease. That decrease was driven by continued employment losses in the recreation and entertainment, transportation, and travel services industry groups, which were not offset by employment gains in accommodations and food and beverage services.

Generally, as the summer tourism season begins and hiring ramps up, significant increases in tourism employment are not uncommon in May. From 2015 to 2019, the average May increase in employment has ranged from 2.5% in British Columbia to 20.6% in Prince Edward Island. In part, this reflects differences in the seasonality of tourism by province. British Columbia has a strong winter tourism industry that keeps employment levels high year-round. This year, the closure and subsequent reopening of tourism businesses led to a jump in May employment. In Prince Edward Island, where the tourism sector is highly reliant on the summer season, the usual jump in May employment was constricted by COVID-19.

Regardless, these provincial increases in employment follow two months of massive employment losses. While the employment increases are good news, they represent a fraction of the usual provincial May employment levels.

Tourism Unemployment Rate

Despite increases in employment, the unemployment rate continued to grow, albeit more slowly than during the past two months. Tourism unemployment reached 29.7%, and by industry was highest in food and beverage services at 35.0%. Increases in unemployment were likely driven by a combination of individuals who had lost jobs starting to seek new work as some restrictions were lifted and students starting to seek summer work.

The unemployment rate was 24.3 percentage points higher than the rate reported in May 2019, and higher than the previous month (April 2020), when the unemployment rate stood at 28.8%. Tourism’s unemployment rate was well above Canada’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 13.8%.

All tourism industry groups reported higher unemployment rates than the same month last year. Compared to the massive jumps in the unemployment rate seen over the previous two months, the unemployment rate was relatively stable. The rate decreased slightly in the accommodations and transportation industry groups, but edged higher in food and beverage services and recreation and entertainment industry groups. The largest increase in unemployment occurred in the travel services industry, where unemployment rose by 7.3 percentage points.

Tourism Industry Group1 Unemployment Rate –
May 2019
Unemployment Rate –
April 2020
Unemployment Rate –
May 2020
Tourism 5.4% 28.8% 29.7%
Accommodations 5.7% 35.5% 34.1%
Food & Beverage Services 5.1% 34.3% 35.0%
Recreation & Entertainment 8.7% 28.0% 29.2%
Transportation 1.9% 14.8% 13.2%
Travel Services 2.7% 22.3% 29.6%

On a provincial basis, tourism unemployment rates ranged from 21.0% in Nova Scotia to 42.9% in Prince Edward Island. The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates for tourism in each province were above the rates reported for the provincial economy.

Across the country, the number of individuals employed in tourism fell by 880,000 in March and April, but then rose by 83,900 in May. In comparison, the number of tourism workers reporting that they were unemployed increased by 342,800 in March and April, and then jumped by an additional 55,600 in May. A significant gap remains between the cumulative decrease in employment and the increase in unemployment, showing that despite some restrictions being lifted, many tourism workers are continuing to wait before seeking employment.

Total Actual Hours Worked by Sector

The reduction in hours worked by sector continues to be greater than the reduction in employment, despite increases in both categories. This suggests there is still a large number of employed individuals who are not working to full capacity. As a percentage of February levels, the Accommodation and Food Services sector continues to have the largest decreases in both actual hours worked and employment. Actual hours worked were down 58.1% from February levels, while employment was down 44.1%. The gap between hours worked and employment levels has narrowed since April, as growth in hours worked outstripped employment increases between April and May.

In February, Accommodation and Food Services employees worked over 31 million hours. In April, they worked just over 10.9 million hours, and in May, actual hours worked increased to 13.1 million hours.

Employment by Age Group and Gender

In May, employment rebounded for all age groups. Those 15 to 24 saw the strongest rebound, following the sharpest losses of employment by age group in the previous two months. Overall, employment for 15- to 24-year-olds was down 26.1% since February, the largest percentage decrease in employment amongst age groups.

Employment levels among female workers decreased more than among male workers in March and April. In May, employment for male workers rebounded by 4.9%, while employment for females rebounded 2.7%.

Moving Forward

As we move towards the summer tourism season, we are seeing some recovery from the large employment losses. As provinces continue to lift restrictions, further employment recovery is expected. However, major barriers stand in the way of tourism’s recovery. Restrictions cannot be fully lifted until a vaccine or effective treatment for COVID-19 is found. While this is the case, businesses will need to implement social distancing protocols that will limit the number of customer and guests they can serve at one time. Many businesses are finding innovative avenues to expand the number of customers they can serve, but at the industry level, limits will remain on the revenue tourism businesses earn from locals and tourists.

Canadians are also less likely to travel this summer. The Conference Board of Canada recently released the results of its travel intentions survey. It confirms that overall travel intentions have fallen since last year. The share of respondents planning on taking one or more overnight trips between May and the end of October has fallen from 79.3% in 2019 to 46.4%.

With international borders still largely closed, and 14-day quarantine requirements in place where they are open, there is a risk that international visitation to Canada will be essentially non-existent this summer. But it also means that Canadians who would have travelled outside of Canada will vacation within the country instead. Despite the overall decline in travel intentions, the Conference Board did note a large increase in the number of respondents planning on vacationing within Canada this year.

Canada’s domestic travel market is significant. Approximately 80% of all tourism demand in Canada comes from domestic travel.

However, Canadian travellers spend a significant amount of money on travel abroad. In fact, Canadians spend more abroad than travellers from other countries spend in Canada. With international travel to and from Canada likely curtailed during the key tourism months, once Canadians are able to travel safely, there will be an opportunity to capture domestically some of the money that would have been otherwise spent outside of Canada’s borders.

For further analysis on the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism workforce, visit our Tourism Employment Tracker.

[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.

New national survey by Canada’s LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce and Tourism HR Canada identifies Canadian hospitality sector opportunity amidst international travel uncertainty

Canada’s LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC), dedicated to the growth of LGBTQ2 businesses, and Tourism HR Canada, a national organization dedicated to building a world-leading tourism workforce, announced the results of a new national survey uncovering the economic opportunity of Canadian LGBTQ2 travellers as they set their sights domestically during the  COVID-19 pandemic. Data collected from 1,455 respondents in March 2020 shows that 90 percent of Canadian LGBTQ2 travellers will look to destinations in the country amidst international travel uncertainty, representing a $12 billion market opportunity.

“COVID-19 is an opportunity for the Canadian hospitality sector to think differently and find new ways to attract domestic travellers, especially those who spend more than average and typically go abroad,” said Darrell Schuurman, Co-Founder and CEO of the CGLCC. “This survey makes clear that Canadian LGBTQ2 travellers are part of the recovery, but atop of meeting their discerning food, arts and culture and shopping preferences – Canadian destinations must have a LGBT+-friendly reputation and good deals.”

Other studies have indicated more eagerness by the LGBTQ2 community to return to travelling underscoring the importance of creating conditions to harness their economic impact.

Key Survey Findings

  • LGBTQ2 travellers spend an average of about $1800 per trip, substantially higher than the Canadian average of $265 per Statistics Canada’s 2018 National Travel Survey.
  • 34 percent of the LGBTQ2 travellers indicated that they expect to travel less in 2020. Of these travellers, 51 percent cited COVID-19 concerns as key detriment to their travel plans this year.
  • Over 90 percent of the respondents indicated that they plan to take at least one leisure trip within Canada in 2020.
  • Ontario is the most popular destination choice for 60 percent of the respondents, followed by Quebec at 50 percent and British Columbia at 46 percent.

The 2020 LGBTQ2 Travel Study survey was generously supported through the Canadian Experiences Fund, delivered by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).

“The tourism industry in Canada has been hit hard by COVID-19,” says the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages. “Many Canadians, including LGBTQ2 travellers, will seek to stay closer to home and avoid international travel in 2020. The survey developed by Tourism HR Canada and Canada’s LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce shows that there is an economic opportunity for the hospitality industry to re-focus marketing efforts and attract more domestic visitors, as part of recovery efforts. We know road ahead will not be easy. We are here for you and we will continue to support our tourism industry, as it adapts and embarks moving forward.”

 2020 Digital LGBT+ Business Summit

Running June 8 – 12, 2020, the CGLCC’s annual business summit connects, supports, and grows Canada’s LGBTQ2 business community. The survey informed the LGBTQ2 Tourism Program informational session, which included Philip Mondor, President and CEO of Tourism HR Canada, and Meena Aier, Senior Data Scientist with Crestview Strategy, with remarks from the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages.

“Creating the right conditions for LGBT+ Canadians is not just the right thing to do – it can be part of the solution during these unprecedented times,” said Philip Mondor, President and CEO of Tourism HR Canada. “Anyone who wants to learn more should access our expert panel discussion and hear from leaders who understand the community firsthand.”

The survey results have also been shared by Travel Pulse Canada and Breakfast Television Toronto.

The full feedback from the study will help reshape a series of Travel Market Seminars and supporting diversity and inclusion learning materials offered by CGLCC and Tourism HR Canada. The resources will help tourism businesses and communities develop a lucrative and fast-growing LGBTQ2 market. To learn more about opportunities to participate, please visit CGLCC’s website.

Survey Methodology

This study was conducted by Crestview Strategy in collaboration with Leger – a leading market research and analytics company. The survey was fielded in English and French to an online panel over the course of two weeks in early March. The survey gathered a total of 1,455 complete and valid responses. Given that COVID-19 was not declared as a pandemic until the 11th of March, the impact of COVID-19 on travel might have been underestimated by respondents.

Funded by the Government of Canada

The Ontario Tourism Education Corporation (OTEC) is pleased to announce that Joe Baker will be joining their team effective June 15 as Systems Leadership and Integrated Strategy Advisor. This newly created role was designed to support the OTEC senior team in their collaborative role in tourism and hospitality workforce recovery alongside numerous industry and association partner organizations.

“The unprecedented ripple-effect of COVID-19 through this sector has required us to take a comprehensive, responsive approach to provide pandemic recovery to hundreds of thousands of affected workers,” said Adam Morrison, President and CEO, OTEC. “Joe’s industry and advocacy expertise will be a game-changer in terms of our ability to provide rapid response to this hard-hit sector. The work ahead will be critical to the sustained recovery of the tourism industry and the resilience of the tourism workforce.”

“OTEC has played a pivotal role in tourism industry workforce development for many years,” said Joe Baker. “There could not be a more critical time for our industry to rely on OTEC and its partners to help tourism and hospitality workers as well as businesses re-invent themselves for the next new normal. With OTEC’s partnership and innovation strategy, Tourism 2.0 will emerge more dynamic and resilient than ever.”

A vocal advocate for the tourism industry, Joe brings 20 years of combined hospitality operations and tourism education leadership experience to OTEC. Most recently as Dean of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts at Centennial College, Joe transformed the School over the last six years, during which time enrollment more than doubled, solidifying its reputation as one of Canada’s premier destinations for tourism industry focused education. Joe serves on the Board of Directors with Tourism HR Canada and TIAO, recently stepping down from OTEC’s board to accept this role.

“These collaborative relationships are critical as we pull together with many organizations to re-start the tourism industry in Ontario and across Canada,” said Morrison.

The recovery of Canada’s tourism workforce requires rapid deployment of resources and a comprehensive engagement strategy that involves all stakeholders. Tourism HR Canada, with a mandate to facilitate, coordinate, and enable human resource development activities which support a globally competitive and sustainable industry and foster the development of a dynamic and resilient workforce, is poised to take the lead on workforce recovery strategies.

With tourism businesses starting to reopen, many need clarity in understanding how to proceed, particularly with physical distancing requirements and maintaining the health and safety of workers and customers. Anxiety stems from not knowing the rules and the difficulty in finding guidance from government and public health officials (and the fact that the rules or requirements are routinely changing). There are other workforce/staffing concerns, like anticipating how many and how quickly workers are required, the type of training needed, and whether the business can procure the necessary health and safety supplies now necessary to operate (e.g., gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, plexiglass shields, special signage).

Recovering from a pandemic is well beyond the experience of most business owners. Knowing how to adapt to the impacts of the virus is difficult; there are many unknown variables and the situation is complex. Many have a feeling of uncertainty and seek guidance.

As Tourism HR Canada works on its own comprehensive online recovery toolkit and resource for tourism businesses, we have discovered various sources of information on workforce recovery during and following a crisis. These include recent recovery plans from the World Tourism Organization, provincial governments, and businesses, as well as guidance material produced from many industry associations. This review led to ten priority recommendations aimed at helping the tourism sector rebound by ensuring it has a post-COVID-ready workforce.

The following are a summary of these recommendations. For the full white paper, please click here.

  1. Practical, explicit guidelines
  • Refer industry to authoritative resources that are maintained, many of which are sector specific.
  • Work with government and health authorities to inform, design, and implement further guidelines that will work for tourism operators.
  1. Flexible, back-to-work employment insurance scheme
  • Work with government to look at employment insurance programs or policies that will be responsive to the unique issues facing tourism, especially because of the gradual recovery period.
  1. Skills training focused on new service and workplace requirements
  • Promote newly created Tourism Workforce Recovery Toolkit (funded, in part, by the Government of Canada, and made available free of charge) and seek additional resources to expand on the products and services (resources) offered in response to emergent needs.
  • Continue to offer and promote the comprehensive list of Emerit online training courses at no cost. Seek funding to further expand content and delivery format options, as needed.
  1. Overhauled workforce plans: a post-COVID people strategy
  • Provide tools and support to help employers develop post-COVID workforce strategies.
  • Monitor anticipated changes to labour codes and other regulations that impact workforce practices and inform the sector of these changes.
  1. Community labour force development plans and a pan-Canadian tourism labour market strategy
  • Develop and implement a framework for community labour force development planning.
  • Work with the federal and provincial governments, national associations, and other key stakeholders to develop a comprehensive tourism sector labour force strategy that complements the Government of Canada’s (i.e., Destination Canada) tourism marketing and growth strategy.
  1. Tourism job retention and job growth strategy: marketing tourism as a destination for employment
  • Seek government support to revive Discover Tourism as a key vehicle to drive a tourism job retention and job growth strategy.
  • Equip Tourism HR Canada, national tourism associations, provincial and territorial industry associations, and Destination Canada with a common campaign to promote viable careers in tourism while reinforcing messages on safe travel and good service standards.
  1. Newly aligned business and service strategies
  • Provide tools and support to help employers develop new business models and learn to access resources or other supports to refit their operations.
  • Work with governments to seek programs and policies that take into consideration the unique business recovery issues faced by tourism operators.
  1. Tailored strategies for targeted populations
  • Develop workforce strategies that will help increase labour force participation of under-represented groups, i.e., Indigenous peoples, new Canadians, international students.
  • Work with colleges and universities to augment or support needs of the future tourism workforce, by offering access to Emerit online learning and joint credentials and promoting these graduates as job ready for quick deployment to the sector.
  1. Labour market data to inform policy and program decisions
  • Tourism HR Canada continues to study the impacts of COVID-19 on the tourism workforce and disseminate timely, comprehensive information and analysis to help inform policy and program decisions.
  • Tourism HR Canada seeks the renewed agreement with the Government of Canada, with broad support from tourism stakeholders, for the continuation of the Foundational Tourism Labour Market Research mandate.
  1. Credential passport: improving on worker and learner mobility
  • Invest in future proofing the tourism workforce by introducing a universal competency credential, which builds on the Future Skills Framework and fosters an inclusive, more resilient and mobile workforce that can quickly adjust to new workforce demands.

Tourism HR Canada is developing the COVID-19 Tourism Workforce Recovery Toolkit to help the industry get up and running as quickly as possible and build resiliency for the medium- to long-term.

Once completed, the toolkit will be a free resource based on best practices and aligned with the needs of tourism SMEs across the country. It will be a practical web-based program that will include presentations, downloadable worksheets, and tools to help tourism operators in their recovery and reopening efforts.

The contents of the toolkit are based on a series of recent in-depth interviews conducted with SMEs nationwide to understand their current reality and their future needs as the country rebounds from the impact of the pandemic. Since COVID-19 shutdowns began, tourism employment in Canada has decreased by 881,700 jobs—a 43 per cent decrease.

“Canada’s tourism industry will not return to 2019 levels in the near future. As the national workforce development organization working for the tourism sector, our goal is to provide the knowledge and tools to help tourism employers and employees rebound from the crisis and build a resilient workforce,” said Philip Mondor, President and CEO of Tourism HR Canada.

Created with support from Ottawa-based Alphabet Creative and Vancouver-based Twenty31 Consulting, the toolkit will align with industry-specific tools already available and include five modules focusing on Workforce Development, Communications, Budget & Finance, Marketing, and Strategic Planning.

Each module will provide businesses with a roadmap containing two key components and actionable tools and tips for implementation. The two components are:

  • Plan: Design and establish policies, procedures, and plans for major business and societal disruptions.
  • Respond: Navigate new pressures and address critical questions at the onset of a major disruption; enable rapid response and decision-making to prioritize effectively.

Recognizing there are varying needs and challenges faced within the tourism sector, SMEs can access comprehensive, industry-specific HR content in the following areas:

  • Accommodation
  • Food and Beverage Services
  • Recreation and Entertainment
  • Transportation
  • Travel Services

The toolkit will be updated regularly with new content focused on topics like human resources, crisis communications, marketing, budgeting and finance, and strategic planning—all focused on business recovery and resiliency.

“This timely new resource builds on our 25 years of leading national HR and workforce initiatives for the tourism sector,” states Mondor. “The Workforce Recovery Toolkit is a forward-looking resource that will assist employers, entrepreneurs, and the workforce as a whole to plan for the new normal. It tackles crucial questions facing operators: How do I manage my workforce needs as I gradually re-open? Will my customer-base change and what are their expectations? How do I retool my daily operations to meet changing demand? This resource will guide them through the uncertainty and support their resiliency.”

Sign up at (English) and (French) to receive access and updates as modules are launched in the coming weeks. The full COVID-19 Tourism Workforce Recovery Toolkit will be released in June with a French version immediately following.