Month: June 2020

Business-focused toolkit supports Canadian tourism SMEs in navigating COVID-19 recovery and resiliency efforts

Ottawa, ON (June 24, 2020) – Tourism HR Canada today launched the COVID-19 Tourism Workforce Recovery Toolkit to guide the hard-hit industry as it works to recover and build resiliency for the medium to long term.

The COVID-19 Tourism Workforce Recovery Toolkit is a practical, free, web-based program that includes guidelines, workflows, checklists and tools focused on topics like finance, health and safety, human resources and change management to provide action items for tourism operators planning and launching their reopening and recovery efforts. The English version of the COVID-19 Tourism Workforce Recovery Toolkit is now available at; the French version will be released in the coming weeks.

“Since COVID-19 shutdowns began, the tourism industry has been decimated, with nearly 1 million people losing their tourism jobs and most businesses being temporarily closed,” said Philip Mondor, President and CEO of Tourism HR Canada. “With regions slowly allowing businesses and experiences to reopen there is not only hope but a determination to see a rebounding of the once-thriving sector and community as a whole.”

The toolkit includes five modules – Workforce, Communications, Budget & Finance, Marketing and Strategic Planning – and aligns with industry-specific tools already available from key oversight organizations. Each module provides businesses with a roadmap containing actionable tools and tips for implementation, linked to two key themes:

  • Plan: Design and establish policies, procedures and plans for major business and societal disruptions.
  • Respond: Navigate new pressures and address critical questions at the onset of a major disruption; enable rapid response and decision-making to prioritize effectively.

Recognizing there are varying needs and challenges faced within the broader tourism sector, SMEs can access comprehensive industry-specific HR content.

Delivering guidance and instructions for best practices, the contents of the toolkit were developed based on a series of in-depth interviews conducted with SMEs nationwide to understand their current reality and their future needs as the country rebounds from the impact of the pandemic. The toolkit is dynamic and will be updated regularly with new content – all focused on business recovery and resiliency – to reflect new information and market changes. Tourism HR Canada is also partnered with agencies and associations to ensure collaboration and a sharing of tools and resources across platforms to better serve the tourism community.

“The most important conversations taking place are about how to instil confidence in businesses and visitors that it will be economically feasible and safe to re-open and return to travel,” says Mondor. “The best way to do that is to outline a clear set of guidelines to be followed, provide resources and tools to be implemented and create education about how to move forward in these mid- and post-pandemic realities. With businesses following these measures, the public will feel assured that everything is done in order to maintain their health and safety and this will open up the concept of non-essential travel once again.”

The COVID-19 Tourism Workforce Recovery Toolkit was launched earlier today with a webinar hosted by Tourism HR Canada’s President and CEO, Philip Mondor. A recording of the webinar can be found here.


About Tourism HR Canada

Tourism HR Canada is a pan-Canadian organization with a mandate aimed at building a world-leading tourism workforce. Tourism HR Canada facilitates, coordinates and enables human resource development activities that support a globally competitive and sustainable industry and foster the development of a dynamic and resilient workforce. The development of the COVID-19 Tourism Workforce Recovery Toolkit was led by Tourism HR Canada with the support of Alphabet® and Twenty31 Consulting Inc.

Media Contact

Nicole Amiel
Director – Eastern Canada
Beattie Tartan

Destination EmploymentThe Destination Employment program prepares newcomers to Canada for jobs in the accommodations industry—an industry in which employers were often desperately seeking skilled staff to welcome the rapidly growing number of visitors across the country. And then, leading into the final year of the three-year pilot, the pandemic hit.

Regional partners were quick to assess and report back on the impacts of COVID-19 in their area.

Amidst plummeting hotel occupancy rates, closures, and staff reductions, the program sought ways to offer alternative support for its participants—those taking in-class training and those looking to apply their skills.

In-class sessions were cancelled as emergency measures were implemented. Where possible, these were wrapped up remotely. Partners then provided one-on-one support, checking in with Destination Employment graduates and participating employers. They helped newcomers navigate financial support, connected them with free online training, and gauged their needs and the impact of changes to the program.

Efforts then began to move ahead with programming, albeit in different forms.

  • In Ottawa, the YMCA moved forward with online information sessions for interested newcomers.
  • In the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), ACCES Employment was able to adjust its traditional programming and get an online cohort enrolled by end of May; all graduated with important workplace knowledge and employability skills.
  • The Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council (NSTHRC) partnered with Metro Works in Halifax to provide online program orientation in multiple languages for the benefit of newcomers with lower English levels.
  • The Saskatchewan Tourism Education Council (STEC) successfully planned and launched a kitchen helper focused cohort, with both online training and a practical component organized to maintain required physical distancing. STEC is also looking at expansion of the Destination Employment program into rural areas.
  • In Kingston, the Ontario Tourism Education Corporation (OTEC) and local partners are finalizing plans to help newcomers displaced as a result of the pandemic by reaching back out and offering additional training.

Across the country, Destination Employment partners are exploring new opportunities to facilitate access to technology and build the required digital literacy skills to succeed in online learning.

At the national level, Tourism HR Canada is determining how to highlight the transferable skills imparted through the hospitality-focused Destination Employment training, support the displaced workforce, and build connections with program alumni. The organization has initiated meetings with Service Delivery Improvements (SDI) recipients in similar category as Destination Employment. This will promote partnerships, explore opportunities, and share lessons and resources developed over the course of the project. Although no formal partnerships have been established, conversations are moving forward to explore available opportunities.

For more information on the Destination Employment program, including to access the free online Hospitality Essentials courses, please visit

Canada’s tourism sector has been hit hard by the global efforts to keep everyone safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tourism businesses were among the first impacted and face a lengthy recovery. Much uncertainty remains regarding what travel restrictions and recommendations will look like over the coming months. Even locals’ ability to access tourism-related businesses, from restaurants to attractions to accommodations, varies from region to region.

To help shape recovery efforts and ensure we are providing targeted, useful, and timely resources to tourism businesses across the country, Tourism HR Canada has launched the COVID-19 Tourism Workforce Impact Survey.

Your feedback will help us:

  • Determine how deeply the workforce has been affected by COVID-19
  • Assess the effect of government programs like the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RFFF) in mitigating the effects of COVID-19
  • Identify the capacity of tourism businesses to reopen, rehire, and recover as restrictions are lifted
  • Identify the extent to which tourism businesses understand the protocols and policies they are being asked to implement in order to reopen
  • Augment other research and data collected through various means including new data from Statistics Canada.

We appreciate that tourism businesses have been asked to fill out many survey forms and provide various types of information. The research we are suggesting does not appear to be covered elsewhere and will assist us in making policy and program recommendations specific to addressing workforce needs during and post COVID-19.

The consolidated data and analysis will be made available to all participating organizations.

The survey will be live until June 26th.

Take the COVID-19 Tourism Workforce Impact Survey here.

After two months in which tourism employment decreased 43.3%, May saw a reversal, driven by increases in the accommodations, food and beverage services, and recreation and entertainment industries.

Data for the May Labour Force Survey was collected the week of May 10th to 16th, when many provinces were easing restrictions, although most remained in place in Alberta, Ontario, and Nova Scotia.

Employment in the tourism sector increased by 83,900 jobs, following the massive employment loss of 881,700 jobs in March and April. Despite the increase, the number of individuals employed in tourism was 39.2% lower than in February 2020, and 41.2% lower than in May 2019. There were 868,400 fewer people employed in tourism this May than there were one year prior.

Please note: To allow comparisons with tourism sector data, which sees significant employment fluctuations over the year, we use seasonally unadjusted data for both tourism employment and overall employment. This May, there was a large gap between the seasonally adjusted and seasonally unadjusted increase in employment (290,000 and 620,500, respectively).

In May, overall employment (unadjusted for seasonality), increased by 620,500. The increase in tourism employment accounted for 13.5% of that increase. This is in contrast to the employment decreases that occurred in March and April, when tourism accounted for 30.3% of employment decreases.

By industry group, the news was mixed. From April to May, employment increased in accommodations (14,100), food and beverage services (52,300), and recreation and entertainment (35,700). However, employment losses continued in transportation (-9,500) and travel services (-8,700).

In the accommodations and recreation and entertainemnt industry groups, employment increases were almost exclusively driven by full-time jobs. In food and beverage services, 62.9% of added jobs were part-time. Overall, 64.6% of the increase in employment was in full-time work.

Among the two industries that saw continued employment losses, 68.7% of the decrease in employment occurred in full-time positions.

Because the industry groups that make up tourism are different sizes, looking at the monthly change in employment as a percentage change relative to the previous month provides a more equitable picture of how each industry has been affected. It also helps illustrate the size of the employment increases, relative to the employment decreases that occurred previously.

With the addition of May’s employment losses, the travel services industry group has the largest overall employment loss as a percent of the number of individuals employed in February. Despite an increase in employment of 11.0% between April and May, the food and beverage services industry has the second largest overall employment loss since February (-45.2%). The accommodations, recreation and entertainment, and transportation industry groups have all lost around 32% of employment since February.

In May, tourism employment increased in all provinces except for Saskatchewan, which recorded a decrease. That decrease was driven by continued employment losses in the recreation and entertainment, transportation, and travel services industry groups, which were not offset by employment gains in accommodations and food and beverage services.

Generally, as the summer tourism season begins and hiring ramps up, significant increases in tourism employment are not uncommon in May. From 2015 to 2019, the average May increase in employment has ranged from 2.5% in British Columbia to 20.6% in Prince Edward Island. In part, this reflects differences in the seasonality of tourism by province. British Columbia has a strong winter tourism industry that keeps employment levels high year-round. This year, the closure and subsequent reopening of tourism businesses led to a jump in May employment. In Prince Edward Island, where the tourism sector is highly reliant on the summer season, the usual jump in May employment was constricted by COVID-19.

Regardless, these provincial increases in employment follow two months of massive employment losses. While the employment increases are good news, they represent a fraction of the usual provincial May employment levels.

Tourism Unemployment Rate

Despite increases in employment, the unemployment rate continued to grow, albeit more slowly than during the past two months. Tourism unemployment reached 29.7%, and by industry was highest in food and beverage services at 35.0%. Increases in unemployment were likely driven by a combination of individuals who had lost jobs starting to seek new work as some restrictions were lifted and students starting to seek summer work.

The unemployment rate was 24.3 percentage points higher than the rate reported in May 2019, and higher than the previous month (April 2020), when the unemployment rate stood at 28.8%. Tourism’s unemployment rate was well above Canada’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 13.8%.

All tourism industry groups reported higher unemployment rates than the same month last year. Compared to the massive jumps in the unemployment rate seen over the previous two months, the unemployment rate was relatively stable. The rate decreased slightly in the accommodations and transportation industry groups, but edged higher in food and beverage services and recreation and entertainment industry groups. The largest increase in unemployment occurred in the travel services industry, where unemployment rose by 7.3 percentage points.

Tourism Industry Group1 Unemployment Rate –
May 2019
Unemployment Rate –
April 2020
Unemployment Rate –
May 2020
Tourism 5.4% 28.8% 29.7%
Accommodations 5.7% 35.5% 34.1%
Food & Beverage Services 5.1% 34.3% 35.0%
Recreation & Entertainment 8.7% 28.0% 29.2%
Transportation 1.9% 14.8% 13.2%
Travel Services 2.7% 22.3% 29.6%

On a provincial basis, tourism unemployment rates ranged from 21.0% in Nova Scotia to 42.9% in Prince Edward Island. The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates for tourism in each province were above the rates reported for the provincial economy.

Across the country, the number of individuals employed in tourism fell by 880,000 in March and April, but then rose by 83,900 in May. In comparison, the number of tourism workers reporting that they were unemployed increased by 342,800 in March and April, and then jumped by an additional 55,600 in May. A significant gap remains between the cumulative decrease in employment and the increase in unemployment, showing that despite some restrictions being lifted, many tourism workers are continuing to wait before seeking employment.

Total Actual Hours Worked by Sector

The reduction in hours worked by sector continues to be greater than the reduction in employment, despite increases in both categories. This suggests there is still a large number of employed individuals who are not working to full capacity. As a percentage of February levels, the Accommodation and Food Services sector continues to have the largest decreases in both actual hours worked and employment. Actual hours worked were down 58.1% from February levels, while employment was down 44.1%. The gap between hours worked and employment levels has narrowed since April, as growth in hours worked outstripped employment increases between April and May.

In February, Accommodation and Food Services employees worked over 31 million hours. In April, they worked just over 10.9 million hours, and in May, actual hours worked increased to 13.1 million hours.

Employment by Age Group and Gender

In May, employment rebounded for all age groups. Those 15 to 24 saw the strongest rebound, following the sharpest losses of employment by age group in the previous two months. Overall, employment for 15- to 24-year-olds was down 26.1% since February, the largest percentage decrease in employment amongst age groups.

Employment levels among female workers decreased more than among male workers in March and April. In May, employment for male workers rebounded by 4.9%, while employment for females rebounded 2.7%.

Moving Forward

As we move towards the summer tourism season, we are seeing some recovery from the large employment losses. As provinces continue to lift restrictions, further employment recovery is expected. However, major barriers stand in the way of tourism’s recovery. Restrictions cannot be fully lifted until a vaccine or effective treatment for COVID-19 is found. While this is the case, businesses will need to implement social distancing protocols that will limit the number of customer and guests they can serve at one time. Many businesses are finding innovative avenues to expand the number of customers they can serve, but at the industry level, limits will remain on the revenue tourism businesses earn from locals and tourists.

Canadians are also less likely to travel this summer. The Conference Board of Canada recently released the results of its travel intentions survey. It confirms that overall travel intentions have fallen since last year. The share of respondents planning on taking one or more overnight trips between May and the end of October has fallen from 79.3% in 2019 to 46.4%.

With international borders still largely closed, and 14-day quarantine requirements in place where they are open, there is a risk that international visitation to Canada will be essentially non-existent this summer. But it also means that Canadians who would have travelled outside of Canada will vacation within the country instead. Despite the overall decline in travel intentions, the Conference Board did note a large increase in the number of respondents planning on vacationing within Canada this year.

Canada’s domestic travel market is significant. Approximately 80% of all tourism demand in Canada comes from domestic travel.

However, Canadian travellers spend a significant amount of money on travel abroad. In fact, Canadians spend more abroad than travellers from other countries spend in Canada. With international travel to and from Canada likely curtailed during the key tourism months, once Canadians are able to travel safely, there will be an opportunity to capture domestically some of the money that would have been otherwise spent outside of Canada’s borders.

For further analysis on the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism workforce, visit our Tourism Employment Tracker.

[1]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.

New national survey by Canada’s LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce and Tourism HR Canada identifies Canadian hospitality sector opportunity amidst international travel uncertainty

Canada’s LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC), dedicated to the growth of LGBTQ2 businesses, and Tourism HR Canada, a national organization dedicated to building a world-leading tourism workforce, announced the results of a new national survey uncovering the economic opportunity of Canadian LGBTQ2 travellers as they set their sights domestically during the  COVID-19 pandemic. Data collected from 1,455 respondents in March 2020 shows that 90 percent of Canadian LGBTQ2 travellers will look to destinations in the country amidst international travel uncertainty, representing a $12 billion market opportunity.

“COVID-19 is an opportunity for the Canadian hospitality sector to think differently and find new ways to attract domestic travellers, especially those who spend more than average and typically go abroad,” said Darrell Schuurman, Co-Founder and CEO of the CGLCC. “This survey makes clear that Canadian LGBTQ2 travellers are part of the recovery, but atop of meeting their discerning food, arts and culture and shopping preferences – Canadian destinations must have a LGBT+-friendly reputation and good deals.”

Other studies have indicated more eagerness by the LGBTQ2 community to return to travelling underscoring the importance of creating conditions to harness their economic impact.

Key Survey Findings

  • LGBTQ2 travellers spend an average of about $1800 per trip, substantially higher than the Canadian average of $265 per Statistics Canada’s 2018 National Travel Survey.
  • 34 percent of the LGBTQ2 travellers indicated that they expect to travel less in 2020. Of these travellers, 51 percent cited COVID-19 concerns as key detriment to their travel plans this year.
  • Over 90 percent of the respondents indicated that they plan to take at least one leisure trip within Canada in 2020.
  • Ontario is the most popular destination choice for 60 percent of the respondents, followed by Quebec at 50 percent and British Columbia at 46 percent.

The 2020 LGBTQ2 Travel Study survey was generously supported through the Canadian Experiences Fund, delivered by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).

“The tourism industry in Canada has been hit hard by COVID-19,” says the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages. “Many Canadians, including LGBTQ2 travellers, will seek to stay closer to home and avoid international travel in 2020. The survey developed by Tourism HR Canada and Canada’s LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce shows that there is an economic opportunity for the hospitality industry to re-focus marketing efforts and attract more domestic visitors, as part of recovery efforts. We know road ahead will not be easy. We are here for you and we will continue to support our tourism industry, as it adapts and embarks moving forward.”

 2020 Digital LGBT+ Business Summit

Running June 8 – 12, 2020, the CGLCC’s annual business summit connects, supports, and grows Canada’s LGBTQ2 business community. The survey informed the LGBTQ2 Tourism Program informational session, which included Philip Mondor, President and CEO of Tourism HR Canada, and Meena Aier, Senior Data Scientist with Crestview Strategy, with remarks from the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages.

“Creating the right conditions for LGBT+ Canadians is not just the right thing to do – it can be part of the solution during these unprecedented times,” said Philip Mondor, President and CEO of Tourism HR Canada. “Anyone who wants to learn more should access our expert panel discussion and hear from leaders who understand the community firsthand.”

The survey results have also been shared by Travel Pulse Canada and Breakfast Television Toronto.

The full feedback from the study will help reshape a series of Travel Market Seminars and supporting diversity and inclusion learning materials offered by CGLCC and Tourism HR Canada. The resources will help tourism businesses and communities develop a lucrative and fast-growing LGBTQ2 market. To learn more about opportunities to participate, please visit CGLCC’s website.

Survey Methodology

This study was conducted by Crestview Strategy in collaboration with Leger – a leading market research and analytics company. The survey was fielded in English and French to an online panel over the course of two weeks in early March. The survey gathered a total of 1,455 complete and valid responses. Given that COVID-19 was not declared as a pandemic until the 11th of March, the impact of COVID-19 on travel might have been underestimated by respondents.

Funded by the Government of Canada

The Ontario Tourism Education Corporation (OTEC) is pleased to announce that Joe Baker will be joining their team effective June 15 as Systems Leadership and Integrated Strategy Advisor. This newly created role was designed to support the OTEC senior team in their collaborative role in tourism and hospitality workforce recovery alongside numerous industry and association partner organizations.

“The unprecedented ripple-effect of COVID-19 through this sector has required us to take a comprehensive, responsive approach to provide pandemic recovery to hundreds of thousands of affected workers,” said Adam Morrison, President and CEO, OTEC. “Joe’s industry and advocacy expertise will be a game-changer in terms of our ability to provide rapid response to this hard-hit sector. The work ahead will be critical to the sustained recovery of the tourism industry and the resilience of the tourism workforce.”

“OTEC has played a pivotal role in tourism industry workforce development for many years,” said Joe Baker. “There could not be a more critical time for our industry to rely on OTEC and its partners to help tourism and hospitality workers as well as businesses re-invent themselves for the next new normal. With OTEC’s partnership and innovation strategy, Tourism 2.0 will emerge more dynamic and resilient than ever.”

A vocal advocate for the tourism industry, Joe brings 20 years of combined hospitality operations and tourism education leadership experience to OTEC. Most recently as Dean of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts at Centennial College, Joe transformed the School over the last six years, during which time enrollment more than doubled, solidifying its reputation as one of Canada’s premier destinations for tourism industry focused education. Joe serves on the Board of Directors with Tourism HR Canada and TIAO, recently stepping down from OTEC’s board to accept this role.

“These collaborative relationships are critical as we pull together with many organizations to re-start the tourism industry in Ontario and across Canada,” said Morrison.