Photo by Nick Wong

Canada’s low dollar typically bodes well for our economy. But as challenges continue to mount and trade wars escalate, it’s clear myriad factors come into play in keeping our economy and industries vibrant (see Hospitality Market Report, p. 18).

In recent years, the impact of business travel on the hotel industry has grown significantly, fuelling job creation, increased tax revenue and increased sales for hotels. Now, according to a recent report by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) called the Economic Impact of Canadian Business Travel, we learn that for every dollar spent on business travel or meeting operations, $1.12 is returned to the national GDP. There’s a wealth of interesting stats gleaned from the report. Firstly, the number of business trips taken in Canada closely mirrors the population of Canada itself — 35.1 million journeys in 2016 alone. That’s a 5.7-per-cent increase from the previous year. With nine out of 10 of those trips taken domestically, travel has clearly become part of our everyday lives. On average, Canadians spend $839 per trip, with the total economic impact of the average business trip pegged at $939 per traveller, which goes back into the Canadian economy.

The report also shows total expenditures in Canada in 2016 were $35.8 billion, for an overall economic impact of $40.1 billion (domestic travel, inbound international travel and meetings operations are all part of that figure). Of the 31.8 million domestic jaunts, most travellers (almost 15 per cent) came from the professional, scientific and technical industries.

Not surprisingly, U.S. travellers comprise the largest share (70 per cent) of international inbound-business volume. Almost $4 billion in goods and services — or 14 per cent of total business travel for the year — was spent by international travellers. In the five years prior to 2016, there has been a solid spike in the number of travellers from Asia and Latin America. And, with recent trade strife between the U.S. and Canada, it’s expected international growth will continue.

The study also shows nearly two-thirds of travel activity occurs in Ontario and Quebec, with the top-five business traveller destinations — Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Ottawa and Vancouver — accounting for more than a third of travel volume and almost half of countrywide spending. Meetings and conventions constitute 37 per cent of overall travel, which indirectly impacts transportation, accommodations and food. Conventions bring with them added economic benefits as money is spent on venues, audio visual, registration fees and other tangential industries. This type of travel surpassed $6 billion in operations expenditures in 2016, growing 14 per cent from the year prior.

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