Month: March 2020

It’s hard to estimate exactly how the spread of COVID-19 will affect Canada’s tourism businesses and employees. We do know it will be big and it will be negative.

Any preliminary estimates are by necessity based on limited available information and subject to change and revision. Tourism HR Canada will be monitoring the effect closely and providing updates as soon as they are available.

Here is some of what we do know.

Historically, March is a low point during the year for tourism employment. After seeing an increase in February driven by winter recreation activities, employment drops in March and then begins a steady climb that peaks in August, although in two of the past seven years that peak has come in July.

On average, from 2013 to 2019 the tourism sector added 216,700 workers from March to the summer peak, an increase of 11% on March employment numbers.

In addition to the overall increase, full-time employment increases while part-time employment decreases, as year-round workers see their hours increase as seasonal demand peaks. Over the past seven years, full-time employment has increased by an average of 305,100 workers, while part-time employment has decreased by 88,300 individuals between March and the summer employment peak.

In 2019, tourism added 238,800 workers to its labour force between March and July, an increase of 11.7%.

Tourism is not monolithic. It is made up of many industries that derive revenues from different sources. How industries react and recover will depend on many variables. One of these is their revenue source.

Tourism businesses serve tourists, obviously. But to varying degrees, they also derive revenues from non-tourism sources. Restaurants are a good example. They are a key part of the tourism sector but most of their customers are locals.

Data from the Conference Board of Canada shows the share of demand in each industry from the year 2019, broken down by source (foreign tourism, domestic tourism, and non-tourism, i.e., local spending).

The industries that have the greatest share of demand stemming from foreign tourism were the first to feel a hit as travel from affected countries was cancelled and international arrivals and outbound travel began to drop. These industries are likely to see the longest lasting impacts. In general, tourism demand is likely to be restricted for some time, greatly affecting accommodation, transportation (particularly air and rail), and travel services.

Industries like food services, recreation, and other transportation (buses, tours, and taxis) derive 75 to 80 percent of revenue from non-tourists, but are of key importance for the tourism sector. Imagine a tourism sector with no restaurants, taxis, or museums. Normally, because they draw on locals, they manage downturns in international and domestic travel with less effect. However, with such a large share of their revenue stemming from people in the community, the necessary restrictions on movement within communities will have a massive negative impact on restaurants, museums, casinos, theatres, and bus and taxi companies, among others. While these industries should see the quickest bounce back in demand once local restrictions on movement are lifted, the longer those restrictions are in effect, the greater the impact on the tourism sector overall.

For further analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on Canada’s tourism sector, subscribe to Tourism HR Insider.

Tourism HR Canada has implemented several changes to its operations and initiatives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone’s health and safety are always of the utmost priority, and we have taken action to do our part in limiting the spread of the virus.

Our staff are working from home and easily reached during regular business hours (generally 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM or 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Eastern Time). Should you wish to connect with anyone from our office, please don’t hesitate to email for specific contact details.

Future Skills Framework: All upcoming focus groups have been put on hold until further notice. Please contact for details.

Destination Employment: Please email or your local delivery agent for the latest information on training programs and participant intakes (current and planned).

LGBT+ inclusion workshops, offered in partnership with the CGLCC: Please contact for updates.

Emerit training and certification programs:

  • Enquiries: The quickest way to receive a response is via or your local certification coordinator.
  • Exams: Scheduled sessions may be cancelled. Affected candidates will be notified. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions.
  • Work history verifications: There may be delays due to temporary business closures.
  • Performance evaluations:
    • We are able to continue offering performance evaluations that take place by phone.
    • Food and Beverage Manager case study evaluations may be cancelled. Affected candidates will be notified.
    • Heritage Interpreters may wish to delay the video recording of their product delivery.
  • There may be delays in sending paper certificates, but we are able to send confirmation of certification via email if needed.

We will continue to keep our clients and stakeholders informed of any further changes. Thank you for your understanding; we know how difficult this time is for Canada’s tourism sector and the 1.8 million individuals who rely on it for employment. We are here to support you.

(seasonally unadjusted)

In February 2020, the unemployment rate1 in the tourism sector was at 5.7%, which is 0.8 percentage points higher than the rate reported in February 2019, and the same as the previous month (January 2020).

At 5.7%, tourism’s unemployment rate was just below Canada’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 5.9%.

Of the tourism industry groups, Accommodations, Food & Beverage Services, and Transportation reported higher unemployment rates than the same month last year, while the unemployment rate of Recreation and Entertainment remained the same (Table 1).

On a provincial basis, tourism unemployment rates ranged from 4.3% in Manitoba to 15.5% in Prince Edward Island.

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

Tourism employment comprised 10.7% of the total Canadian labour force for the month of February.

Table 1 – Employment Rate by Tourism Industry Group – February 2019/2020
Tourism Industry Group2 Unemployment Rate –
February 2019
Unemployment Rate –
February 2020
Tourism 4.9% 5.7%
Accommodations 7.5% 9.7%
Food and Beverage 4.8% 5.7%
Recreation and Entertainment 7.3% 7.3%
Transportation 1.8% 2.5%
Travel Services N/A N/A
Figure 1 – Tourism Sector vs. Total Labour Force Unemployment Rates by Province (Seasonally Unadjusted)

See interactive charts

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 February 15, 2020.

As the competition for staff increases amidst a tightening labour market, employers are looking for novel and creative solutions to attract and retain top talent.

Job seekers, meanwhile, are looking for a more rounded work experience—a workplace that aligns with their values, encourages development and growth, and offers the flexibility to balance competing priorities in their work and personal lives.

To help, we’ve explored 12 ways employers can set themselves apart and entice the skilled staff they need to build a thriving business that meets the expectations of today’s discerning traveller.

Bonus: a handy checklist for quick reference to make your business an employer of choice!

Download the full PDF to delve into how to:

  1. Include Alternative Work Arrangements as Part of Your HR Strategy
  2. Update and Expand Your Recruitment Strategies
  3. Overhaul and Tailor Your Work Arrangements
  4. Use Technology to Enhance Experiences
  5. Manage HR Risk and Reduce Volatility
  6. Work on Retention Strategies
  7. Invest in Your HR/Employer Brand
  8. Be a Centre of Meaningful Learning
  9. Make Smart Training Investments
  10. Cultivate Meaningful Community Relations
  11. Provide Stability Through Predictable Employment
  12. Increase Your HR IQ

Download 12 Practical, Insightful Ways to Find and Keep Workers in a Tight Labour Market

Toronto Focus Group

The Future Skills Framework relies on industry experts to ensure that each and every competency has been validated based on real-life insights from professionals with extensive experience in the field.

We therefore gratefully welcomed ten experts in sustainable tourism to our Ottawa focus group on February 25 and 26. Over the course of two days, every participant was able to provide insights from their unique backgrounds, resulting in major strides forward in the sustainability-related areas of the framework.

To further bolster the work being done, another ten professionals gathered in Toronto on the same dates to apply their extensive knowledge and experience in business management to the Framework. Bringing together decades of experience in senior management across a variety of tourism operations, this group was able to validate all sections they were presented with, which included business planning, project management, and continuous improvement.

Ottawa Focus Group

We would like to thank everyone involved in these groups for the impressive work they did.

If you are a tourism professional with insight into any of these areas and would like to be part of future-proofing the industry’s labour market, we would love to learn a bit more about you so we can reach out when new opportunities to involve you arise!

These sessions contributed towards the FUTURE SKILLS FRAMEWORK, a multi-year project aiming to develop a comprehensive framework to redress the skills and labour mismatches in tourism while aiding job seekers, educators, and governments to better understand the skills and competencies employers are looking for. To learn more about the project, click here.

Annual Labour Force Survey Highlights (2019)

The Labour Force Survey (LFS), conducted by Statistics Canada, is the only source of monthly employment estimates for Canadian industries. It collects monthly standard labour market indicators and is a major source of information on the working-age population.

Tourism HR Canada has finalized its review the estimates available for tourism industries.

The information presented here is drawn from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey. It shows rates of unemployment in Canada’s tourism sector by province and by industry group.

The data is seasonally unadjusted to allow comparisons between the tourism sector and the overall economy. As such, monthly and annual numbers for Canada’s entire labour force will differ from the seasonally adjusted numbers that are commonly reported.

Tourism Unemployment in 2019

The tourism sector’s unemployment rate rose slightly to 5.1% in 2019, up from a record low 4.9% in 2018. The tourism unemployment rate was over half a percentage point lower than the unemployment rate for the overall labour force, which reached a record low in 2019, at 5.7% (down from 5.8% in 2018).

Annual Unemployment:

Tourism unemployment was at its lowest in September (4.5%), followed closely by October and December (4.6%)—surprising, as tourism unemployment tends to rise throughout the fall and winter due to seasonal variability.

Monthly Trends

Tourism is made up of 29 individual industries assembled into five industry groups. The accommodations industry group had the highest annual unemployment rate in 2019, at 6.9%, while the transportation industry group had the lowest, at 2.6%.

The accommodations and recreation and entertainment industry groups showed the greatest monthly variability, with accommodations starting the year with 9.6% unemployment in January but dropping to 3.4% in July, while recreation and entertainment varied from 8.7% to 4.6% unemployment depending on the month.

Provincial Trends

Regionally, the highest rates of unemployment occurred in the eastern regions of Canada. Prince Edward Island experienced the highest annual tourism unemployment rate, at 10.1%, while British Columbia experienced the lowest, at 3.2%.

The high annual unemployment rate in some provinces is largely the result of volatility in seasonal demand. For example, the tourism unemployment rate in Prince Edward Island dropped from 15.9% in January 2019 to 0.0% in July and August, swinging back up to 17.1% in November. Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador showed similar volatility. In comparison, the tourism unemployment rate in British Columbia had fewer volatile swings, marking a low of 2.4% in July and a high of 4.4% in September.

Annual Tourism Unemployment Rate by Province:

Long-Term Trends

While this year marks a slight increase to tourism unemployment levels, the annual unemployment rate in tourism has been consistently dropping since 2009, save for another small increase in 2014. Prior to 2009, the tourism sector had reached low unemployment rates of 6.0% in 2007 and 6.2% in 2008. Due to the worldwide economic downturn, unemployment rates rocketed in 2009. Tourism peaked at 7.6%, while the overall labour force reached 8.3%. Both rates have trended lower since that time, with the tourism sector maintaining a consistently lower unemployment rate ever since.

Part-Time & Full-Time Employment

Job growth has occurred among both full-time and part-time tourism positions, with part-time positions growing slightly faster than full-time. In 2000, part-time positions made up 32.7% of tourism jobs; they had grown to make up 37.0% of tourism jobs by 2019.

Share of Total Tourism Employment:

Explore the full range of charts in our Labour Market Information section.

You can get detailed labour force survey data by occupation and region through our Rapid reSearch tool, hosted on Sign up for an account to gain access to the data.

canada_govThis project is funded by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program

The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.

Source: Adapted from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey. This does not constitute an endorsement by Statistics Canada of this product.

Krista Bax, go2HR CEOgo2HR — BC’s tourism human resource association — is pleased to announce the appointment of Krista Bax to the role of CEO. Krista is poised to lead go2HR on an exciting new path forward after the organization underwent significant changes last year.

Krista has more than 20 years of experience in various strategic leadership roles. Prior to joining go2HR, she was the Senior Vice President, Western Canada at Context, a strategic engagement and communications firm. From 2009-2017, Krista held senior positions at the Asia Pacific Gateway Skills Table, and was promoted to Executive Director in 2014. Krista also has extensive experience in occupational health and safety, primarily in the forestry industry. She holds an MBA and B.Sc. from the University of Alberta, and has completed the Not-for-Profit Program developed by the Institute of Corporate Directors and the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

“This is a critical time for go2HR as we continue to adjust and grow,” says Ian Powell, go2HR’s Board Chair. “With Krista’s background and knowledge, we are confident that go2HR will thrive and re-energize under Krista’s fresh approach to leading the organization.”

“Being passionate about the tourism sector, I am very excited about joining the go2HR team,” comments Krista. “go2HR is a highly respected organization and I look forward to working with industry leaders to continue our efforts to realize a thriving, skilled workforce that delivers exceptional experience to all guests.”

Krista will make her first appearance at the BC Tourism Industry Conference in Victoria. She will officially start on April 1, 2020, taking over from Arlene Keis, who has been at the helm for more than 17 years. go2HR’s Board of Directors extends their heartfelt thanks and gratitude for Arlene’s contribution to the organization and the industry, and wishes her well in her retirement.

About go2HR

go2HR is BC’s tourism human resource association, responsible for playing a lead role in executing the BC Tourism Human Resources Strategy. Established in 1979, go2HR helps employers with their HR needs in areas such as occupational health & safety, customer service training, recruitment, retention and labour shortages, employment-related policy and legislation, and labour market research. go2HR also promotes jobs and careers in tourism, hosts the BC tourism job board, and helps businesses provide remarkable customer experiences through its signature SuperHost suite of training. For more information, visit

Media Contact:

Joyce Lam
604 721 8929

2020 International Indigenous Tourism Conference (IITC)  LogoThe 2020 International Indigenous Tourism Conference is hosted in Treaty 1 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis in Winnipeg, Manitoba, from September 29 – October 1, 2020.

The International Indigenous Tourism Conference (IITC) is an annual conference that brings people together in a spirit of learning and inspiration. As the biggest Indigenous tourism conference in the world, IITC contributes greatly toward the advancement of the Indigenous tourism industry.

This year, at the ninth annual IITC, your Indigenous hosts invite you on an “Adventure to Understanding,” as you experience the rich and varied tapestry of Indigenous tourism. Adventure to Understanding represents the bringing together of our Indigenous cultures – First Nations, Inuit and Métis – and their unique stories. 2020 IITC falls on September 30th — Orange Shirt Day — which opens the door for a conversation about residential schools and reconciliation.

When it comes to reconciliation, there is no road map to how we get there. But through tourism, the journey of reconciliation is an opportunity for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to walk together to learn about the culture, invite them in and start to move together in a different way.

Join us for three days of cultural tours, keynote speakers, panel discussions and breakout sessions to grow your business — whether you are in development or exploring markets for export, this is the conference for you.

Adventure to Understanding is your invitation to experience Indigenous Tourism in Manitoba.

Super-early-bird registration is on until March 31. Save up to $200 by registering today!