Newcomers Play Key Role in Tourism’s Competitiveness

On June 20, the Government of Canada announced the launch of an innovative three-year pilot program that will see nearly $7 million dedicated by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to connect newcomers to Canada with jobs in the hotel industry in five regions across the country.

Tourism HR Canada and the Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) are proud to be partnering on this initiative, which will build on the contributions this growing demographic has provided Canada’s rapidly expanding tourism sector.

Immigrants account for 22% of Canada’s population, and as the birth rate remains below that needed to replace our existing population, they will be vital for the continued growth of the country and the economy. In 2014-15, they accounted for 60.8% of Canada’s population growth; Statistics Canada estimates that by 2031 they will account for more than 80.0% of population growth.

Newcomers bring a wide variety of skills and experience to their new roles, and in a sector as global as tourism, their cultural and language skills are a competitive advantage—making it easier to communicate with international visitors and offer products and services specially designed to make them feel welcome.

Tourism HR Canada has just released a full profile of immigrant workers in Canada’s tourism sector, based on the most recent census data. Here are some highlights:

  • In 2016, 26.0% of the tourism workforce were immigrants, up from 23.9% in 2011. For comparison, the number of immigrant workers in Canada’s total workforce was 23.8% in 2016.
  • As a percentage of its labour force, the travel services industry employs the largest share of immigrant workers (35.3%), followed by accommodations (31.7%) and transportation (31.1%).
  • Specific occupations where immigrants make up a high percentage of the workforce are taxi and limousine driver (69.9%) and chefs (51.6%).
  • By region, immigrants filled the greatest share of tourism jobs in British Columbia, at 31.5%, followed by Alberta (30.7%) and Ontario (29.8%).
  • Since 2011, the percentage of tourism jobs filled by immigrants has grown in all provinces. The greatest growth was seen in Saskatchewan, where immigrants went from filling 13.1% of tourism jobs in 2011 to 23.5% in 2016.
  • Most immigrants (37.6%) who are working in tourism have been here for over two decades, having arrived before 1996.

Download the full profile, including infographics, on

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