Explore Tourist Spending Across Canada

Statistics Canada recently released an updated Provincial and Territorial Tourism Satellite Account (PTTSA). The PTTSA is the only source for comparable data on tourism expenditures in the different regions of Canada. Tourism HR Canada has a long history of involvement with Canada’s tourism satellite account and is happy to see the provincial/territorial version updated to the year 2014.

The findings of the PTTSA are available from Statistics Canada’s publication The Daily and users can search the data within the PTTSA online.

A national Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) has been produced regularly for some time and is the foundation for the National Tourism Indicators, which provide quarterly information on tourism demand in Canada. However, the economic effect of tourism varies across the country, and this extension of the TSA to cover the provinces and territories allows us to explore this variance.

A satellite account for tourism is necessary because a discrete unit called “tourism” does not appear in the systems used to measure economic activity in Canada. The system of national accounts is used to measure economic activity in Canada. It in turn uses the North American Industry Classification system (NAICs), which classifies business establishments by the type of economic activity they are involved in, i.e., the main and goods and services they produce. Tourism, however, is usually defined by the activities of a type of consumer—the tourist. Tourists touch many different industries when they travel, such as transportation services, recreational services, and accommodation, among other forms of discrete economic activity.

Although a single industry called “tourism” cannot be found, it implicitly exists within the national accounts because all those industries that tourists use are spread throughout it. By bringing together and analyzing the sub-industries that make up tourism, the PTTSA allows us to measure tourism at the provincial and territorial level. Because the satellite account is based in the system of national accounts, the data it provides is comparable with other sectors or industries.

Nationally, tourism activities contributed $35 billion to Canada’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2014. As a share of provincial/territorial GDP, tourism activities ranged from 1.2% in Nunavut to 3.0% in Prince Edward Island.

Tourism’s Contribution to Gross Domestic Product (2014)

It is worth noting that the PTTSA reports on the economic activity caused by tourists spending money. But many industries that serve tourists also derive a significant amount of revenue from non-tourists—for example, restaurants, which serve residents as well as tourists. For this reason, data from the TSA is different from data reported elsewhere. For example, Tourism HR Canada usually reports the total number of jobs in tourism—which includes all jobs created by both tourists and locals, whereas the PTTSA reports only those jobs that are caused by tourism activity, i.e., the share of jobs supported by tourists spending money.

Employment due to Tourism and Total Jobs in Tourism Industries (2014)