Month: March 2021

This February, employment in both tourism and the broader economy increased. This was the first monthly increase in tourism employment since August 2020 and the first increase in seasonally unadjusted employment across all segments of the Canadian economy since October.

The seasonally adjusted data reports employment in Canada increasing by 259,000, while unadjusted employment, which is used to compare the broader economy to the tourism sector, increased by 309,300.

Tourism employment increased by 88,900 in February with the addition of 50,400 part-time workers and 38,500 full-time workers, an overall increase in employment of 6.2% compared to January. Despite the increase, tourism employment remained lower than it was in December.

Data is from the week of February 14 to 20, 2021.

February’s employment increase was largely driven by the addition of 68,100 employed workers in Ontario and 26,800 employed workers in Alberta, two of the provinces that reduced COVID-19 restrictions in February.

Newfoundland and Labrador, however, re-introduced lockdowns, and saw tourism employment plummet by 5,300 or 28.6%.


  • Tourism employment increased by 88,900 in February.
  • Despite monthly gains, tourism had half a million fewer employed workers than in February 2020.
  • The national gain in employment was largely driven by the lifting of restrictions in certain provinces.
  • Tourism employment in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador decreased 28.6% due to an outbreak of COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown.
  • At 15.5%, tourism’s unemployment rate was above Canada’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 8.6%.
  • While employed tourism workers increased by 88,900, the number of unemployed tourism workers only decreased by 46,400. This likely indicates that many workers who lost employment in the fall and winter waited to be recalled, rather than seeking new jobs.
  • The number of total actual hours worked has not recovered to the same extent that employment has, indicating that while some employees are returning to work, they are working fewer hours than they would have been pre-pandemic.

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.

Tourism Employment Rate

In February, employment across the entire Canadian economy increased by 309,300. Tourism employment made up 28.7% of the monthly employment gain, adding 88,900 employed workers between January and February.

From January to February, employment increased in all industry groups, although the transportation industry lost some part-time emploment. Employment in the accommodation industry increased by 3,300 due to a gain of 4,600 part-time jobs and a loss of 1,400 full-time jobs.

In February 2021, tourism employed 1,524,200 workers, 25% fewer than in February 2020, the last month before the COVID-19 pandemic caused tourism employment to plummet.

The greatest increase in employment occurred in part-time work within the food and beverage services industry group. Part-time work was also responsible for all employment gains in the accommodation industry, as full-time employment decreased by 1,400. Full-time employment drove gains in the transportation and recreation and entertainment industry groups.

Because the industry groups that make up tourism are different sizes, looking at the monthly change in employment as a percentage increase or decrease relative to the previous month provides a more equitable picture of how each industry is recovering. It also helps illustrate the size of the employment increase or decrease relative to total employment within a given industry group. Due to February’s employment gains, tourism employment is now down 24.7% since February 2020, a slight improvement from January when employment was down almost 30%.

The accommodation and recreation and entertainment industry groups have seen the greatest percentages of loss of employment since the start of the pandemic, down 40.4% and 29.1%, respectively. While other industries have seen smaller employment decreases, some of that employment may be sustained by the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy. For example, although employment in travel services is “only” down 10.6% as of February 2021, other data shows that the greatest decrease in job postings has been for travel counsellors. Industry group data can also gloss over vast differences at the industry group level. Overall employment levels in the transportation industry group are down 16.5% since February, but air transportation is down 52.7%.

On a year-over-year basis, seasonally unadjusted employment across all Canadian industries was down 3.2% compared to February 2020. In comparison, tourism employment was down 24.7% from the same month a year ago.

Provincial Tourism Employment

Provincially, there was a mix of employment gains and losses in February. The national gain in tourism employment was largely caused by large gains in Ontario (68,100) and Alberta (26,800). In Nova Scotia, employment increased by 6,000, which as a percentage of the previous month’s employment levels was the second largest gain of any province (17.4%). These three provinces all saw a lifting of restrictions in early to mid February.

While tourism employment in these provinces benefitted from the lifting of restrictions, tourism employment plummeted in Newfoundland and Labrador as an outbreak of COVID-19 in early February sent the province into lockdown. As a result, tourism employment fell by 5,300—a decrease of 28.6% compared to January.

Other provinces had a mix of gains and losses ranging from a loss of 6.5% in Prince Edward Island to a gain of 6.6% in Saskatchewan.

In January, tourism employment in New Brunswick moved higher than it had been in January 2020. However, this appears to have been an anomaly. As of February, all provinces once again have tourism employment levels that are well below what would normally be expected for this time of year. On a percentage basis, the greatest employment losses were in Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, and Manitoba. The impact of the lockdown in Newfoundland and Labrador can clearly be seen. In December, year-over-year tourism employment levels in that province were 11.9%—one of the better performing provinces, relatively speaking. Just two months later, year-over-year employment levels were almost half of normal levels.

Tourism Unemployment Rate

In February 2021, the unemployment rate in the tourism sector was at 15.5%, which is 9.7 percentage points higher than the rate reported in February 2020, but lower than the previous month (January 2021), when the unemployment rate stood at 18.6%.

At 15.5%, tourism’s unemployment rate was above Canada’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate of 8.6%.

All tourism industry groups have reported higher unemployment rates than the same month last year.

Unemployment Rate
Tourism Industry Group[1]

February 2020

January 2021

February 2021

Tourism 5.8% 18.6% 15.5%
Accommodations 10.1% 29.9% 26.4%
Food & Beverage Services 5.8% 18.1% 13.8%
Recreation & Entertainment 7.5% 22.4% 20.1%
Transportation 2.5% 10.6% 10.6%
Travel Services N/A 17.4% 12.2%

On a provincial basis, tourism unemployment rates ranged from 6.8% in Saskatchewan to 23.1% in Prince Edward Island.

The seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates for tourism in each province, with the exception of Saskatchewan, were above the rates reported for the provincial economy.

Average Tourism Employment Change

Tourism employment generally climbs slightly between January and February, 0.8% on average since 2001. This year’s 6.2% employment increase was driven by the lifting of COVID-related restrictions and stay-at-home orders. It also follows several months of employment declines exceeding the monthly averages seen since 2001.

Since the late summer, employment levels in tourism have largely decoupled from customer demand. Employment climbs and falls in reaction to public health restrictions. Should there be a third wave of the virus and reimplementation of restrictions—as has already happened in some regions of Ontario—employment will drop again. It will only be once a sustained lifting of restrictions begins that we will be able to see how much employment demand can be supported in the post-COVID era.

Average Monthly Employment Change in Tourism (2001-2019 vs. 2020/21)

Average Monthly Employment Change 2001 to 2019 Monthly Employment Change 2020/21
August -0.6% 3.2%
September -5.6% 0.2%
October -0.8% -4.1%
November -1.8% -2.1%
December 0.2% -3.5%
January -1.0% -8.6%
February 0.8% 6.2%

Following five months in which the tourism labour force declined, the size of the tourism labour force increased 2.4% between January and February. The labour force is the combined number of employed tourism workers and former tourism workers who are actively seeking employment.

While employed tourism workers increased by 88,900, the number of unemployed tourism workers only decreased by 46,400. This likely indicates that many workers who lost employment in the fall and winter, waited to be recalled, rather than seek new jobs.

Where to From Here?

Tourism’s employment increases were largely due to a lifting of restrictions in certain provinces this February. Tourism employment in general is rising or falling in response to health restrictions, not to any increase or decrease in customer demand. At this time, the possibility of a third wave and further restrictions remains a possibility. This has already occurred in some regions.

That said, as more Canadians are vaccinated, there will come a time at which a sustained reduction in COVID-19 transmission will occur and with it an ongoing and sustained loosening of restrictions. Although some limitations will remain until all Canadians have been vaccinated, once a sustained reopening takes hold, employment levels should start to once again react to demand for tourism goods and services, rather than health restrictions.

[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.

Tourism HR Canada hosted its annual Labour Market Forum last week, welcoming over 300 delegates from across the country. This annual hallmark event highlights the pressing labour market challenges facing the tourism sector, providing perspective and inviting meaningful discussion and action.

Participants shared their experiences and insights on topics including the impact of COVID-19, mental health, inclusion and diversity, immigration, and education-industry links. Their feedback has already begun to contribute to recommended policies and strategies to help restart the workforce and enable the tourism industry to recover from the most catastrophic year on record.

A key takeaway from the event is the need for a national tourism labour market strategy—one that builds on the few local or regional efforts and addresses many items discussed at the forum. Such a strategy is instrumental for workforce planning at policy tables, at board tables, in businesses, and with academia.

An effective workforce strategy will be coherent and ensure a consistent focus and message, reflecting a common voice. It will help build targeted resources, reduce the chance of duplication, and enable groups to leverage funding from various sources. The strategy will be an all-of-tourism approach to reflect the scale and scope of the challenge, while accounting for regional differences.

Tourism’s restart can only happen if it has a skilled and functioning workforce. Other countries have plans for the sector—it’s simply a necessity to ensure we can rebuild a competitive, resilient, and inclusive workforce.

A pan-Canadian tourism workforce strategy is featured in our new Workforce Shortfall Report. This document outlines priority strategies to restart the tourism workforce and frames issues that are core to the revitalization of our tourism labour market: supply, skills, sentiment, and strategy.

We encourage you to read this report and connect with us to advance these strategies to build a resilient, competitive, and inclusive labour market.

Download your copy of the Workforce Shortfall Report.

Tourism HR Canada has long led the way in offering innovative, industry-vetted training and small business resources for Canada’s tourism operators, workers, and students. As our hard-hit industry sees a glimmer of hope for reopening, access to skills development will be vital to welcoming back visitors with world-class customer service and unique experiences.

Coming next month: a full update to one of its core Emerit brand of tools, Business Builders.

This refreshed online resource will help support small and medium-sized businesses as they look to develop strategies to prepare for the restarting and recovery of the tourism and hospitality economy—and beyond.

Business Builders is an exceptional business-in-a-box start-up kit. The modules will walk owners, operators, and entrepreneurs step-by-step through all the business processes and tasks needed to set up a smooth operation.

Business Builders is divided into nine separate modules:

  1. Introduction, including Top 10 Things to Know About Running a Tourism Business
  2. The Industry
  3. Getting Started, including Feasibility of Starting a Business and Creating a Business Plan
  4. Creating Your Product
  5. Financial Management
  6. Staffing Matters
  7. Marketing
  8. The Customer
  9. Managing Operations

As self-directed resource guides, these modules will help business owners and operators to review their current planning and management practices. Entrepreneurs planning to launch a new tourism operation can work through the series to prepare a solid business plan and learn how to successfully run a tourism business – from start-up planning to day-to day operations.

While many areas of Canada continue to face challenges and restrictions because of COVID, there are signs of recovery as the vaccine rollout ramps up. Pent-up demand for tourism and hospitality products and services will result in an influx of visitors and locals seeking new experiences. Business Builders can help with launching a start-up or revamping an existing offering to meet this demand with confidence.

Watch Tourism HR Insider for the launch of Business Builders in April—and in the meantime, be sure to visit for a practical, no-cost web program designed to help tourism operators confidently build a resilient workforce and rebound from COVID-19.

Tourism HR Canada congratulates Board Director Vince Accardi on his new role as President of the Ontario Motor Coach Association (OMCA) and Motor Coach Canada (MCC).

OMCA and MCC’s Chair, Marc Laplante, announced last week that Vince will officially start with the organization on April 19.

Vince has strong ties to Tourism HR Canada, having served on its Board for several years. Previous to this, he worked at the organization for over a decade, most recently as its Vice-President, Marketing and Business Development.

“The Tourism HR Canada team and Board of Directors look forward to continuing to work with Vince in his new capacity at OMCA,” stated Philip Mondor, President and CEO of Tourism HR Canada. “He is passionate about building a world-class tourism economy in Canada, and he brings extensive knowledge and experience that will strongly contribute to the recovery of the sector.”

In 2017, following his tenure at Tourism HR Canada, Vince joined the team at the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC), where he served as Director of Policy and Stakeholder relations and then Vice-President, Stakeholder Relations and Business Development. He has led TIAC’s advocacy efforts since November, including the launch of the 2021 Tourism Recovery Plan, as the Acting CEO. His last day at TIAC will be April 8.

North Vancouver, B.C., March 19, 2021 – Capilano University (CapU) and Fleming College are pleased to announce a new 2 + 2 block agreement that allows Tourism and Hospitality diploma graduates from Fleming College to continue their education and complete a Bachelor of Tourism Management degree at CapU. This agreement, which came into effect on March 1, opens a new pathway for both current students and recent graduates of Fleming College.

“Capilano University’s School of Tourism Management is thrilled to partner with Ontario’s Fleming College,” said Stephanie Wells, chair of the School of Tourism Management at Capilano University. “We are confident our graduates will be equipped to help lead the post-pandemic economic recovery efforts in tourism and hospitality across Canada.”

The block transfer agreement applies to graduates of Fleming’s Ontario College Diploma in Tourism -Global Travel and Ontario College Diploma in Hospitality – Hotel and Restaurants Operations.

“Hospitality and tourism have been two of the hardest hit industries over the course of this pandemic,” said Maureen Adamson, Fleming College President. “With people eagerly waiting for the opportunity to travel again when it is safe to do so, Fleming’s cross-country partnership with CapU will prepare our students with the skills and training that will be in high demand.”

Ontario and BC represent Canada’s most significant tourism economies, with one in 11 jobs depending on the tourism industry.

CapU has been a leader in tourism education in Western Canada for over 40 years. Its School of Tourism Management offers students globally experienced faculty, experiential learning and impactful community engagement.

This agreement expands the University’s reach to students in Ontario. It opens opportunities for tourism and hospitality diploma graduates from Ontario to broaden their education with deeper learning and work experience opportunities in Vancouver and the Sea-to-Sky region.

About Capilano University
Capilano University is a teaching-focused university based in North Vancouver, with programming serving the Sunshine Coast and the Sea-to-Sky corridor. The University offers 94 programs, including bachelor’s degrees, in areas as diverse as film, early childhood education and tourism management. Capilano University is named after Sa7plek (Chief Joe Capilano), an important leader of the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) Nation of the Coast Salish Peoples. We respectfully acknowledge that our campuses are located on the territories of the LíỈwat, xʷməθkʷəỷəm (Musqueam), shíshálh (Sechelt), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and SəỈílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

About Fleming College
Fleming College respectfully acknowledges that we are situated on Michi Saagiig Anishinaabeg lands and territory. Located in the heart of Central Ontario, Fleming College has campus locations in Peterborough, Lindsay, Cobourg and Haliburton. Named for famous Canadian inventor and engineer Sir Sandford Fleming, the college features more than 100 full-time programs in Arts and Heritage, Business, Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences, General Arts and Sciences, Health and Wellness, Justice and Community Development, Skilled Trades and Technology, and Continuing Education. Fleming College has more than 6,800 full-time and 10,000 part-time students, and 80,000 alumni.

For more information, or to schedule interviews, please contact:

Linda Munro
Capilano University
t: 604 220 8937

Amar Shah
Fleming College
t: 705-749-5530 x 1370

Just four dates remain to access the LGBT+ Diversity and Inclusion certificate for free thanks to funding from the Government of Canada. After March, the program will still be available, but for a fee.

The following sessions are your opportunity to learn how your business can welcome a key market for tourism’s recovery.


March 11; 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. EST

March 17; 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. EST

March 18; 12 a.m. – 4 p.m. EST


March 16; 12 – 4 p.m. EST

Seminars on demand: free until March 31, 2021

For additional training, Tourism HR Canada and CGLCC, Canada’s LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce, have made the LGBT+ Travel Market-Ready Seminar available on demand.

Watch the two 40-minute videos to:

  • Access travel market research
  • Hear case studies from around the world
  • Learn about custom LGBT+ products
  • Leave inspired to create your own successful LGBT+ tourism-welcoming strategy

Watch the seminar on demand.

Tourism Kamloops recognizes the benefits of this course outside of tourism

Explore Edmonton and Tourism Kamloops joined the growing community of allies who have participated in the LGBT+ Diversity and Inclusion certification program. Angie Halas of Tourism Kamloops found the program beneficial, not just in the workplace, but in her local community as well.

“I appreciate that this workshop made participants reflect on our own biases in order to be a better ally and communicator in not only the tourism industry, but in the broader Kamloops community.” – Angie Halas, Visitors & Stakeholder Liaison

Exclusive offer: free three-month CGLCC membership

To thank everyone who has participated in the LGBT+ tourism programs this year, CGLCC is offering a three-month membership at no cost. Registrants will be able to access the member directory and full Tourism Toolkit, attend professional development sessions, and access networking opportunities.

Reserve your workshop before March 31, 2021.

The global-oriented Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Management graduate certificate program offered by Centennial College’s School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts has been awarded SMART + Premium accreditation from Tourism HR Canada.

SMART is a flexible and inclusive accreditation program that responds to the identified needs of program providers, learners, and industry alike. It is a direct outcome of Tourism HR Canada’s goal to improve the quality and mobility of the tourism workforce.

“We are delighted to recognize Centennial College’s commitment to excellence in education,” states Philip Mondor, Tourism HR Canada president and CEO. “Its focus on collaborative, hands-on programming that aligns with the current and emerging skills sought by industry helps to ensure Canada has the adaptable, inventive talent that will help our sector recover and thrive as the visitor economy reopens.”

Canada’s hotels, resorts, and restaurants are world-renowned, and their standards have become global benchmarks to which many successful organizations aspire. Centennial’s courses teach these standards, supported by deep-rooted relationships with multinational hotel, resort, and restaurant organizations.

The program, bolstered by Tourism HR Canada accreditation, gives students the tools to answer the call of the dynamic and truly international hospitality industry. The Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Management program includes a 14-week work integrated learning component that immerses students in real-world work situations where they can accumulate relevant experience.

“This accreditation reinforces the uniqueness and premium academic quality within the Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Management program,” says Cyrus K. Cooper, professor and academic coordinator of the Centennial program. “The program not only helps hospitality professionals build their skills, but also prepares them to advance their careers and make the move into senior leadership positions.”

Established in 1966, Centennial College is Ontario’s first public college. It primarily serves the eastern portion of the Greater Toronto Area through five campuses and six satellite locations. Best known for its record of exemplary teaching, innovative programming and extensive partnership-building, Centennial enrols more than 25,000 full-time students and 20,000 part-time learners annually. This marks the third of Centennial’s programs to achieve the SMART + designation.

Learn more about Centennial’s unique one-year Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Management graduate certificate program.

Learn more about Tourism HR Canada’s SMART + Premium accreditation.