From the Editor: Great Expectations


As Canadians, we hunger for summer. In fact, our craving for the warm rays of the sun after our long, cold winters is almost obsessive. Certainly, after 15 months of dealing with the harsh reality of the pandemic, this year, our longing for summer is even more intense.

With more than half our population having received their first dose of the vaccine, and second doses now underway in various parts of the country, optimism is building. Suddenly, there’s great expectations for the coming season, buoyed by the reality we’re slowly inching toward some semblance of normalcy.

Ironically, with border restrictions and the pandemic still in play throughout this country, and in various parts of the world, for now Canadians will be forced to travel within our own borders, re-discovering just what makes this country such an attractive destination. That bodes well for domestic tourism numbers and hotels across Canada. Revenge travel will be on our to-do list this summer, although some may opt for a wait-and-see approach.

Destination Canada’s (DC) Travel Sentiment Report cites more than 60 per cent of Canadians feel safe to travel in communities near them or within their province whereas, less than 50 per cent feel safe travelling to other provinces. Cleary, minimal cross-border traffic is expected in the short term.

As industry pundits have posited throughout the pandemic, domestic leisure will lead us out of this period. According to Rebecca Godfrey, director of CBRE Tourism and Leisure Group, national domestic travel will dominate in 2021. Speaking at a recent webinar produced by CBRE and the Hotel Association of Canada, Godfrey cited stats showing domestic leisure represented 66 per cent of visitation in Canada in 2019, and is forecast to increase to 77 per cent in 2021. DC’s 2021 forecast is calling for a 30-per-cent increase in domestic tourism receipts with further declines in foreign revenues into Canada of 14 per cent over 2020 levels. Stats Canada has confirmed a $14.8 billion decline in International Visitor revenue to Canada in 2020 over 2019.

Though domestic leisure travel is forecast to increase, CBRE says we can anticipate a corresponding fall in business travel from about 15 per cent in 2019 to 13 per cent in 2021. In 2020, interprovincial, domestic business travel dropped by more than 63 per cent.

While it’s hard to determine when the pandemic will end, how the coming summer shapes up will be contingent on various factors: will there be another wave; when will the border re-open; will there be a vaccine passport; and will the Federal Government be able to achieve its vaccination targets by its desired dates, or possibly even sooner, fuelling a return to life as we knew it? Only time will tell.


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