Tourism Week 2018: Celebrating a Vibrant Workforce

Tourism Week in Canada, held May 27 to June 2 this year, is a time to celebrate the economic impact and social benefits of tourism across this country.

Tourism is a major employer of Canadians, with 1.8 million people working in tourism-related jobs in all regions of the country. That’s 10.6% of all workers in Canada.

Destination Canada reported a record-setting 20.8 million visitors in 2017, and international tourism revenues topped $21 billion. Tourism spending represents 2% of our GDP.

The Government of Canada’s New Tourism Vision seeks to grow and support the sector, and sets the following targets:

  • Canada will compete to be one of the Top Ten most visited countries in the world by 2025.
  • The number of international overnight visits to Canada will increase by 30% by 2021.
  • The number of tourists from China will double by 2021.

Tourism is thriving and is poised to grow even further. In a sector that relies on personal interactions—whether it’s the agent checking someone in, the driver on the way to the hotel, the server at the must-try restaurant, the guide at the gallery, gate attendant at the waterpark, or the sales clerk helping to select an umbrella to replace that one you left by the front door (we’ve all done it, right?)—it’s vital to have an ample number of skilled, passionate people working at the 200,000 businesses across the country.

Labour shortages are a reality in many regions of the country—for some occupations, in all regions. They impact growth, as business owners as forced to scale back on investments, reduce hours, or close altogether. In a sector with a high percentage of small businesses, many owner-operators are doing the work of multiple people, causing burnout. These factors impact service levels, causing visitors to potentially have a less-than-welcoming stay here. With a world of options, they may travel elsewhere next time—and advise their friends to do the same.

We all want to maintain a sustainable and competitive tourism sector—but even with recently increased immigration targets, we’re facing a possible 60,000 unfilled tourism jobs by 2035.

Let’s be proactive. Working together, we can develop effective strategies around the attraction, retention, and training of employees.

Through our labour market supply and demand reports, we examine ways we can address the shortage. These include:

  • Businesses, governments, and industry associations collaborating to build policies that make tourism a destination for employment
  • Raising the profile of the sector to capture the career paths and managerial roles available
  • Matching those seeking employment with tourism jobs
  • Dispelling myths about low pay and long hours as the norm
  • Highlighting the sector as a place to gain valuable work experience and skills
  • Broadening attraction efforts to include Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, and new arrivals to Canada
  • Continuing to analyze immigration targets, including the categories

And let’s remember that keeping valuable employees is the best way to avoid shortages—training and innovative HR policies allow employees to feel supported, grow in their roles, advance in an organization, and be recognized for their contributions and dedication.

As we celebrate Tourism Week, let’s be sure to recognize and thank the dedicated professionals working across the country. They are our greatest asset, and careful thought and planning will make sure we can inspire even more to join us in breaking records.

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