Author: Tourism HR Canada

Tourism HR Canada is pleased to announce the 2019 Canadian Tourism Sector Compensation Study is now available.

Employers in Canada’s tourism sector want to know they are offering competitive compensation strategies, just as workers and labour organizations want to know that they are receiving them. Having sound compensation data will help the tourism sector support a dynamic and balanced labour market.

Produced with R.A. Malatest and Associates, this comprehensive study presents data and analysis on the compensation and benefits offered by businesses in Canada’s tourism sector. Over 2,100 employers from across the country provided data for over 48,000 employees in food and beverage services, accommodation services, recreation and entertainment, and travel services.

The study contains information on the type of compensation (e.g., hourly or annual), salary range, median salary, and bonuses for 30 occupations in the sector. This data is broken down by region, industry group, employment status (full-time, part-time, seasonal), and union status.

The study also includes data on businesses’ policies around gratuities, benefits, perquisites and incentives. Additionally, in response to the changing landscape of compensation across the country, the study collected data on the impact of minimum wage increases on businesses in the sector.

Respondents were optimistic about the health of the sector. Overall, tourism businesses reported an increase in revenues in 2018 over the previous year. When asked about future demand, 21.9% expected to increase the size of their workforce in 2019, compared to only 6.3% who expected their workforce to shrink.

Understanding trends in compensation will help employers attract and retain the talent needed to continue to grow the sector and compete on an increasingly crowded global stage. The information contained in the Canadian Tourism Sector Compensation Study is essential for the development and implementation of consistent and effective human resource strategies. The data will help all tourism stakeholders set pay policies, develop evidence-based human resource strategies, and analyze competitive practices.

Access your copy of the 2019 Canadian Tourism Sector Compensation Study now.

Note: If you participated in the Canadian Tourism Sector Compensation Study survey in 2018, please contact research@tourismhr.ca for your complimentary copy of the study.

Fast Facts

  • Nationally, the highest paying occupation receiving an annual salary was director of sales and marketing. The highest paying frontline position receiving an hourly wage was sous chef.
  • The most common benefits offered were group health/dental insurance, life insurance, and short-term disability. The most common perks included employee discounts or free services, flex time, and communications technology.
  • Almost three-quarters of respondents had staff who received gratuities, but only half had a gratuity splitting policy.
  • Businesses in British Columbia and Ontario were more likely than those in Alberta to report they were able to absorb the costs of minimum wage increases.
  • Among the changes implemented to help manage the increases, the most common was charging higher prices.

International Indigenous Tourism ConferenceThe Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) has announced programming for its International Indigenous Tourism Conference. The annual event will be held this year from November 12 to 14 in Kelowna, BC, on the traditional territory of the Syilx Nation, in partnership with the Nlakapamux and Secwepemc Nations, Tourism Kelowna, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, and Indigenous Tourism BC.

Under the conference theme “Inspire. Transform. Unite. Accelerating Indigenous tourism growth.”, presenters will focus on inspiring communities and entrepreneurs to explore tourism as an economic driver. “Transform” focuses on the impacts of Indigenous tourism on visitors and Indigenous operators alike. “Unite” speaks to the power of partnerships and coming together to empower the Indigenous tourism industry.

Highlights of the three-day event include keynote speakers Jordin Tootoo, first Inuk player in the NHL, and Sarain Fox, host of Future History on APTN, as well as local cultural tours, networking opportunities, and the Indigenous Tourism Awards.

Early-bird pricing is in effect until August 31. Register today.

(seasonally unadjusted)

In July 2019, the unemployment rate1 in the tourism sector was at 4.7%, which is 0.5 percentage points higher than the rate reported in July 2018, but lower than the previous month (June 2019), when the unemployment rate stood at 4.8%.

At 4.7%, tourism’s unemployment rate was below Canada’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 5.9%.

With the exception of the transportation sector, all tourism industry groups have reported higher unemployment rates than the same month last year (Table 1).

On a provincial basis, tourism unemployment rates ranged from 0.0% in Prince Edward Island to 6.9% in Nova Scotia.

The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates for tourism in each province were below the rates reported for the provincial economy (Figure 1).

Tourism employment comprised 11.7% of the total Canadian labour force for the month of July.

Table 1 – Employment Rate by Tourism Industry Group – July 2018/2019
Tourism Industry Group2 Unemployment Rate –
July 2018
Unemployment Rate –
July 2019
Tourism 4.2% 4.7%
Accommodations 2.8% 3.4%
Food and Beverage 5.1% 5.9%
Recreation and Entertainment 3.7% 5.0%
Transportation 4.0% 2.9%
Travel Services N/A 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 July 20, 2019.

Future Skills Framework LogoAnnounced last fall, the Future Skills Framework project seeks to address the changing nature of work in the tourism sector. Under the three-year, federally funded initiative, Tourism HR Canada is creating a comprehensive and sustainable competency framework for the Canadian tourism economy.

The framework will be a dynamic collection of competencies and essential employability and social skills. Anyone may access it to:

  • Bolster training and development
  • Define career planning pathways
  • Consolidate recruitment and selection criteria
  • Improve credential recognition
  • Outline succession planning
  • Refine performance management practices
  • Delineate occupation profiles

To ensure it reflects the realities of our evolving tourism sector, the Future Skills team has hosted several focus group sessions, with subject matter experts and industry professionals providing valuable insights.

Over the coming year, the team will seek further guidance from tourism stakeholders at sessions to be held across the country—this is your opportunity to share your vision for the future of the sector.

What’s involved?

Over two days, a facilitator guides about 20 participants through discussions and activities to identify and build the key competencies on a given subject area—this could be essential skills, occupation-specific skills, or transferable skills such as leadership. Participants share relevant knowledge, experiences, and thoughts on industry skill needs and gaps as the group works towards agreement on the content of the competencies.

Why participate?

Broad and engaged participation in these focus groups will ensure the competency framework addresses the full range of skills needed to keep our tourism sector competitive and forward-looking. The project will greatly benefit from the expertise of those throughout the various tourism industries: accommodations, food and beverage services, recreation and entertainment, transportation, and travel services. Participants’ experiences in operations, research, training, and application will inform the content of the framework.

Previous participants expressed the value of cross-industry collaboration, networking opportunities, and more fully understanding the profound impact and wide range of uses the competency framework will have.

Sign up or learn more

Details on upcoming sessions—locations, dates, topics—are available by emailing FutureSkills@tourismhr.ca. One upcoming session will be held September 24 and 25 at the Novotel Ottawa. Another session will take place in Whitehorse in October. Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Sign up for Tourism HR Insider for further updates on this project.

Now in its second year, the Destination Employment program has successfully helped newcomers to Canada prepare for and land hotel jobs across the country. The initiative helps hoteliers to fill critical vacancies in a tight labour market and provides them with resources to help onboard and mentor these new employees.

As the program grows to include new areas within the five key regions, Tourism HR Canada and project partner the Hotel Association of Canada are pleased to release a series of three infographics to showcase the benefits of the program to hoteliers and newcomers.

The first, targeted to hoteliers, demonstrates how Destination Employment provides solutions to the labour shortage and offers the opportunity to create a diverse and welcoming workplace. The steps to register are clearly outlined.

The second, for newcomers to Canada, puts the rewarding employment and benefits offered by the hotel sector at the forefront.

Finally, the third infographic, again for newcomers, showcases the suite of job and growth opportunities available when employed at a hotel.

All three are available through the Destination Employment webpage—please share with any interested parties.

For updates on the Destination Employment program, subscribe to Tourism HR Insider.

With record low unemployment rates, labour shortages are being widely felt across Canada, impacting businesses in multiple sectors and escalating competition for workers. Programming designed to attract workers to a specific industry unrelated to tourism may appear to offer solutions only to other employers, but details within these programs can also benefit tourism businesses desperate for staff.

While designed to address labour shortages in agriculture and agri-food businesses, the recently announced three-year federal Agri-Food Immigration Pilot Program is expected to attract close to 16,000 applicants—and their families.

Much like tourism, food processing businesses are located right across Canada, in urban and rural locations. Much like tourism, Food Processing Skills Canada reports that these businesses are having difficulty attracting and retaining staff, particularly in smaller or rural communities. So when a processor in Kings County, Nova Scotia, or Levis, Quebec, or Brooks, Alberta, is able to employ a newcomer to Canada and offer them a pathway to permanent residency, the hotel, restaurant, or attraction down the road is afforded a chance to connect with a spouse or teenage dependant seeking work opportunities.

Meat Processors Across Canada
Meat Processors Across Canada (Source: Food Processing Skills Canada)

Newcomers are much more likely to stay in a community where they are able to quickly and easily establish ties and feel welcomed and supported by locals. To secure new staff, tourism employers may wish to collaborate on a cross-sectoral attraction and retention plan, whether this is by one employer reaching out to another or by building a wider, community-based initiative. All parties stand to benefit from a collaborative effort across businesses:

  • Multiple employers attract much-needed staff
  • The family settles in more quickly and gains additional financial and community support
  • The local tourism sector gains cross-cultural knowledge and possibly new language skills
  • The community is more likely to see the family establish roots, rather than losing them to a large urban centre
  • Employers are more likely to retain the workers over the long-term
  • The newcomers may encourage extended family and friends struggling to settle elsewhere to consider moving to the community, thus attracting additional labour

Looking to connect? The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has a list of federally registered meat establishments and their licensed operators.

Tourism employers may also want to explore other recently announced pilots that provide workers with the opportunity to bring their family members, such as the Home Child Care Provider Pilot and the Home Support Worker Pilot.

(seasonally unadjusted)

In June 2019, the unemployment rate1 in the tourism sector was at 4.8%, which is 0.3 percentage points higher than the rate reported in June 2018, but lower than the previous month (May 2019), when the unemployment rate stood at 5.4%.

At 4.8%, tourism’s unemployment rate was below Canada’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 5.2%.

The Accommodations, Food & Beverage Services, and Recreation & Entertainment industry groups reported higher unemployment rates than the same month last year (Table 1).

On a provincial basis, tourism unemployment rates ranged from 2.5% in British Columbia to 7.1% in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates for tourism in each province, with the exception of Prince Edward Island and Quebec, were below the rates reported for the provincial economy (Figure 1).

Tourism employment comprised 11.3% of the total Canadian labour force for the month of June.

Table 1 – Employment Rate by Tourism Industry Group – June 2018/2019
Tourism Industry Group2 Unemployment Rate –
June 2018
Unemployment Rate –
June 2019
Tourism 4.5% 4.8%
Accommodations 5.0% 5.9%
Food and Beverage 4.8% 5.2%
Recreation and Entertainment 6.2% 6.5%
Transportation 2.1% 1.4%
Travel Services N/A 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 June 15, 2019.

Tourism HR Canada spent June 12th to 14th in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, participating in several events related to determining the future skills needed by the tourism workforce. Team members interacted with a variety of tourism stakeholders, exchanging valuable insights on the short- and long-term opportunities and challenges facing the sector.

The Need for Flexible Employment

The Saskatchewan Tourism Education Council (STEC) held its fourth annual Tourism Workplace Leadership Conference on June 12th. This one-day learning and networking conference connects educators, frontline employees, mid-level managers, and those who are Emerit certified or are currently pursuing certification.

Tourism Workplace Leadership ConferenceCalum MacDonald, Tourism HR Canada’s Vice-President of Labour Market Intelligence, presented at the Educator Forum, a venue for trainers and educators to explore the opportunities and challenges of guiding youth into long-term, rewarding careers in tourism. This session provided an overview of the opportunities available to youth and others setting out in their careers, and the tools and resources available to workers and employers.

A critique often levelled at tourism is that the jobs are seasonal, low-paying, and precarious. But this ignores who fills tourism jobs: over 30 percent are occupied by young people aged 15 to 24. They fill a higher share of jobs in tourism than in any other industry.

For those in school full-time, as many of these youth are, a part-time or seasonal job meets the needs dictated by their schedule. The low earnings associated with those jobs are often because they are part-time, seasonal, or may be supplementary to other income.

These are also often first jobs: a valuable place to learn skills and an initial entry point to the labour market. Over four in five Canadians say skills learned working in the tourism industry are relevant (37%) or somewhat relevant (46%) to developing skills that would allow them to be successful in their career. Labelling these jobs as precarious ignores the fact that starting in a “low-skilled” job does not preclude using it as a springboard to a career in the sector.

Future Skills Are Present Concerns

Tourism HR Canada also presented on the future skills needed by the tourism workforce. This session showed how the changing nature of work and increasing economic importance of tourism provide new opportunities to support tourism growth.

Attendees learned how Tourism HR Canada’s Future Skills Framework introduces a new approach to addressing mismatches between skills and labour to help employers and workers pinpoint opportunities to perform more effectively.

Delegates discussed the general concern people are feeling about the economy. Despite economic numbers being quite good (including the lowest unemployment rate in forty years), people feel there is an inherent instability in today’s economic systems and are not convinced tomorrow will be as good as today.

Further, the skills workers require are changing. Individuals are less likely to stay in a single job or career. Instead, they will work in many unrelated fields, or in multiple environments at the same time. The complexity of the skill sets required focus on adaptability and flexibility.

Having a breadth of skills rather than a deep mastery of one single set of skills is the future. The demand for skills that can be replaced by technology is declining, while the demand for advanced cognitive skills, socio-behavioral skills, and skill combinations associated with greater adaptability is rising.

Of further concern: Artificial Intelligence and machine learning threaten to force people out of work as industry finds ways to automate jobs currently filled by people. The tourism sector is somewhat immune to these trends due to the service-oriented nature of the industry and the need for flexibility. One of the benefits of human staff is adaptability. After the lunch rush, your cashier can clean tables and help prepare for the dinner rush. People are flexible. So far, machines are not.

But automation can replace many tasks, and there is potential for disruption as individuals need time to learn new skills and may find their skills becoming obsolete faster than they can retrain. The workers who will succeed? Those who engage in constant skill upgrading by numerous means. This requires having solid foundational skills that allow for mobility between jobs.

Taking the Lead on Skills

Following the Workplace Leadership Conference, Tourism HR Canada led a two-day discussion of the Future Skills Framework project with subject matter experts from across Canada.

Future Skills Framework Focus GroupThe Future Skills Framework will be a library of competencies required by workers in the Canadian tourism sector. The session identified and built key competencies that embody leadership in tourism.

The focus group was facilitated by Lyne Marcil, Director, Psychometric Services. She guided participants through various questions and prepared material to get input and feedback on the overall structure of the framework. The main objectives of the session were to:

  • Review and discuss the Future Skills Framework categories and competencies
  • Review and develop competencies relating to leadership in the tourism industry

Thanks all those who gathered in Saskatoon to develop competencies and evaluate the Future Skills Framework. The two-day focus group exceeded expectations and the team is grateful to have had the chance to work with the subject matter experts who attended.

Once the data gathered from the event is analyzed, an updated framework will be drafted. The newly drafted framework and competencies will be developed over the summer and presented to industry in a series of focus groups being hosted throughout the fall and winter of 2019-2020.

If you would like the opportunity to review the framework and provide your feedback, please sign up here.

Destination Employment LogoTourism Saskatchewan, through its education department, the Saskatchewan Tourism Education Council (STEC), is a proud partner in the Destination Employment program, which helps newcomers to Canada gain meaningful employment in the tourism sector.

With generous funding from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Tourism HR Canada and the Hotel Association of Canada launched the three-year pilot program in June 2018. Saskatchewan was among five regions chosen to receive funding for the program. Delivery of the program in Saskatchewan is led by STEC, working with the Saskatchewan Hotel and Hospitality Association (SHHA) and other partners.

Tourism is one of the world’s most rapidly growing sectors. Maintaining an adequate, skilled labour force is a challenge. Estimated growth in tourism between now and 2035 will require the creation of jobs at a faster rate than that of labour force growth, thereby limiting the expansion of the industry and compromising services.

Destination Employment assists hoteliers and accommodation businesses with attracting new employees and retaining valuable staff. The benefits are wide reaching and enrich communities through increased economic activity, greater opportunities for Saskatchewan residents, and a more diverse tourism sector that provides exceptional service.

Delivery partners working with STEC include the Saskatoon and Regina Open Door Societies and the Saskatoon Industry Education Council. Currently, ten Saskatchewan businesses are active employers in Destination Employment. The SHHA plays a role in identifying hotels that wish to participate.

Day 1 of classes for Destination Employment participants in Saskatoon

Fifty-seven individuals, selected by the delivery agencies, recently completed the program. At the end of training, program participants are matched to employers.

By supporting them in areas of language proficiency, workplace safety concepts, and employment-related skills, Destination Employment positions some of Canada’s most vulnerable residents on a pathway to stable employment and job advancement.

“It is a privilege for STEC to lead this initiative in Saskatchewan and work with people from around the world who have come to Canada for a new start,” Carol Lumb, Director of STEC, said. “They bring a wealth of knowledge and skills with them that strengthen Saskatchewan’s tourism sector.”

Click here for more on Destination Employment, including how to apply.

The Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA) Canada Chapter has launched a new microsite detailing the programming for its annual conference, held from September 18-20 this year in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Among the highlights is a workshop hosted by Statistics Canada, offering hands-on experience with the robust data the agency provides, including Frontier Counts, the National Travel Survey, and the Visitor Travel Survey. Statistics Canada has changed and updated many of its tourism-related data products over the past few years, and those looking to navigate them and extract key information will be expertly guided through these changes by Statistics Canada personnel.

Moving Forward, this year’s conference theme, invites tourism researchers to be forward thinkers: to rediscover Canada’s tourism industry through various lenses that acknowledge the past while providing guidance for our future. A future that inspires authentic cultural experiences for travelers, while providing interactive opportunities for practitioners. Moving Forward calls for impactful tourist experiences across various niche tourism markets, bringing destinations to life and providing tourists with unforgettable travel experiences. Canada’s future tourism seeks to break down barriers and empower stakeholders to work together to deliver innovative research methodologies. This year’s conference will highlight the path ahead, focusing on new ways of thinking about tourism in order to capitalize on emerging technologies, methodologies, and societal changes.

Visit the conference microsite now for details and to take advantage of Early Bird pricing.