Tourism HR Canada’s annual Labour Market Forum is a key part of creating a more resilient and inclusive labour market.

This premier event offers Canada’s tourism sector a unique opportunity to collaborate on improving workforce strategies, resources, and the capacity to implement them.

Tourism businesses, industry associations, educational institutions, media, and governments are all invited to examine skills and labour issues and strategize on initiatives to strengthen tourism’s future.

In 2021, the event went virtual. Tourism leaders from across the country shared presentations centred around four pillars: Skills, Supply, Sentiment, and Strategy. These reflect the devastating impact of the COVID pandemic on the tourism sector as well as the need for innovative approaches to restart tourism in the face of dramatic labour losses.

Tourism HR Canada also released a Workforce Shortfall Report outlining the challenges and opportunities facing the sector.

2021 Labour Market Forum Presentations

Hearing from National Associations: Responding to COVID Challenges and Opportunities

To start the conversation, this year’s forum begins with messages from association leaders who have been assiduous in responding to the needs of the industry.

Listen and participate in discussions with industry leaders:

  • Philip Mondor, President and CEO, Tourism HR Canada
  • Darlene Grant Fiander, President, Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia, and Chair of the Board of Directors of Tourism HR Canada
  • Vince Accardi, Vice-President, Stakeholder Relations and Business Development, Tourism Industry Association of Canada
  • Alana Baker, Senior Director, Policy & Public Affairs, Hotel Association of Canada
  • Olivier Bourbeau, Vice-President, Federal and Quebec, Restaurants Canada

Individually and collectively, their efforts have done much to help the industry stay afloat.

This session will provide a glimpse at the main challenges they have faced and what they anticipate is needed to help recover the workforce.   

The Post-COVID Future of Tourism

Tourism is an important economic driver across the entire country. In 2019, the visitor economy contributed $104.9 billion in expenditures and $43.5 billion in Gross Domestic Product. That year was also an all-time high for the number of overnight international tourist arrivals to Canada.

While 2019 capped several years of tourism growth, 2020 was an unprecedented challenge. As we look towards the summer of 2021, we must recognize that while extreme difficulties are ongoing, it is time to start planning for a recovery that will not be without its own challenges.

In February 2021, Tourism HR Canada brought together tourism employers and employees to identify the most likely scenario the sector will face when the pandemic recedes. 

This session presents the outcomes of those meetings plus all relevant research conducted by Tourism HR Canada. We will reflect on the industry’s systemic challenges and assess how COVID-19 has mitigated or enhanced these issues.

As we reflect on the devastating and lasting effect that COVID-19 has had on our industry, it’s now time to look forward and prepare our workforce’s future resiliency.  

COVID idled tourism’s economic engine, and there will be challenges reviving the industry as restrictions lift. Though this will be an ongoing process, we will recover.

The Impact of Digitalization on the Tourism Workforce

In response to COVID, tourism businesses are transforming their business models with an increased adoption of technology and digitalization of their operations. Investments are aimed at innovating and reshaping their products and services and, most importantly, building resilience.  

This session will examine the emerging role of digital technology on the tourism workforce, its impact on work organization, and the skills needed to recover and operate post COVID.

Recovering the Indigenous Tourism Sector

As a result of the pandemic, the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) estimates a total loss of at least 1,000 Indigenous tourism businesses and more than 21,000 jobs that support Indigenous, rural, and remote communities.

This session will explore the strategies ITAC has developed to assist the industry and share key insights from ITAC members on how they have maintained operations and what is required for future recovery.

The Importance of LGBT+ Market Readiness on the Road to Recovery

LGBT+ travellers represent a major opportunity for recovery for our Canadian tourism industry. When compared to the general population, LGBT+ travellers spend 7x the average trip expense. They rebound faster after industry shocks, being among the first segment to recover post-9/11 and SARS. And right now, 90% of them are seeking travel opportunities within Canada. They are after many of the travel experiences you likely already have to offer, but they value one thing significantly higher than their mainstream counterparts: their safety. In order to welcome the lucrative LGBT+ Canadian travel market, valued at over $12 billion annually, there is work to do to ensure these travellers’ comfort and wellbeing. This session will include: • A high-level overview of LGBT+ market-ready research content • An exploration of industry recovery—how becoming market-ready now will benefit the recovery process • A look at the tourism programs and training opportunities available from the CGLCC Before engaging the LGBT+ communities, you need to prepare to welcome them into a safe space. This means ensuring your destination and business recognize gender and sexual diversity and have meaningful practices in place to ensure LGBT+ travellers have an inclusive and positive experience with you.

COVID-19 Pandemic: Impact on the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management Programs and Students

The COVID-19 pandemic had an unprecedented impact to the education system, to educators and students.

At the college level, and in the School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at George Brown College in Toronto, efforts were undertaken to swiftly shift to the online learning environment, educate and engage students, industry, and faculty members in the online learning platforms, and provide opportunities for students to continue to network and stay connected with our industry partners.

The impact of the pandemic, coupled with the online learning delivery of curriculum, has impacted our soon-to-be graduates’ perceptions of the hospitality and tourism sector.

Adaptation and Innovation: Engaging New Canadians as a Crucial Driver in Tourism Recovery and Long-term Growth

This session will explore the successes and challenges faced in delivering the Destination Employment program and highlight the importance of flexibility in programming to pivot resources and supports when facing a crisis like COVID. How can lessons learned over the past year ensure future programming and support systems meet the needs of new Canadians looking to enter the tourism workforce? How will their growing interest in the sector help recovery and future growth when labour shortages return, as is projected?

Risk and Reward: A Sector Analysis of COVID Impacts on Immigration Employment Prospects

COVID-19 and related public health restrictions significantly reduced the number of new immigrants arriving in Canada in 2020. Those same measures have had a massive impact on the economy, particularly in industries with above average numbers of immigrant workers. In this context, the federal government has re-committed to immigration as an essential economic driver by raising immigration levels to record levels over the next few years. What unique economic integration challenges will this record number of newcomers face? Further, what does this mean for key industries including hospitality and tourism?

Tourism as a Place of Work, Place of Play, and Economic Driver

How has COVID-19 affected Canadians’ perceptions of tourism? In 2017, Tourism HR Canada published the results of a survey asking Canadians about their perceptions of the tourism sector as a place of work. It showed that Canadians viewed many aspects of tourism positively, but held negative views as well. Many respondents had positive perceptions of tourism and would recommend it as a place of employment. However, the survey results also pointed to challenges for the sector. Widespread negative perceptions regarding wages and careers presented a significant challenge to attracting people to tourism employment.

Top Concerns for the Tourism Workforce in 2021

The past year has seen major structural changes to the economy, while the tourism sector tried to stay afloat. Recovery will not be ‘business as usual’ and the rebuilding of capacity will be the greatest challenge. This session will look at the trends and factors expected to impact the tourism workforce and what they mean for employers to be able to attract and retain talent.

Additionally, it will explore the challenges with re-deployment and re-employment, grapple with the concern over the ever-shrinking supply of workers, and contemplate what it will take for employers to manage the ‘new’ workforce.

The Talent Crisis in Tourism: From University to the Workplace

(Presentation is primarily in French; bilingual slides available for download below.)

This session will address the causes and the consequences of the long-term talent crisis that is worsening for the hospitality and tourism sector. Opportunities and potential solutions will be discussed.

Will the tourism workforce show up for the recovery?

(Presentation in French; English slides available for download below.)

This session is based on the results of last September’s vast survey led by the CQRHT among more than 3,000 tourism workers in the Province of Québec. It will present information on the extent of the damages caused by COVID to the tourism workforce and will look at the main issues that each sector of the industry could face through the recovery process. Issues such as laid-off workers’ loyalty to their industry, the impact of COVID on working conditions, and ways to retain and bring back workers will also be addressed.