The Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) team has been hard at work this summer to build out a bold tourism-and-hospitality growth strategy that will prioritize the sector as a key economic engine for government, with much-needed investments and policy shifts.
The new Federal Tourism Growth Strategy is a unique opportunity to shape the government’s approach to our industry over the long term. HAC developed its policy recommendations through member consultations, surveys, focus groups and thorough economic analysis. We asked members about the biggest barriers to recovery and what is needed to kick-start growth across the hotel sector. The results of the consultations brought to light key concerns regarding labour, the hotel-investment environment, restrictive travel regulations and the need to support and celebrate our industry’s environmental and social-responsibility endeavours.
Chief among our asks is reform to Canada’s immigration system that will prioritize accommodation workers for processing and increase quota allocation. This will be essential in alleviating the critical labour shortage being felt across industry. To address domestic labour force gaps, we have recommended targeted recruitment campaigns for Canadians and tax credits to encourage worker mobility. Our labour recommendations also include increased funding for training and skills development and support for key demographics.
Second is a sizeable investment strategy that will deliver new sources of patient capital, tax credits for retrofits and capital-cost allowance write-offs. And, of course, central to our asks is a predictable, frictionless travel experience, with increased air access to secondary and tertiary markets. You can find our submission on our website at hotelassociation.ca.
We have been working closely with other leading national associations, including The Tourism Industry Association of Canada, Tourism HR Canada, the Indigenous Tourism Industry Association and Destination Canada to coordinate sector-wide alignment. We’ve also mobilized more than 120 tourism-and-hospitality business associations under the banner of the Coalition of the Hardest Hit Businesses (founded by HAC during COVID), to amplify our key asks. In fact, the Coalition has submitted our recommendations for the Growth Strategy regarding labour, borders and transportation, investment and an ambitious growth plan for a stronger and more inclusive tourism sector.
Naturally, we have also been working alongside our Minister of Tourism, Randy Boissonnault and have had a series of meetings with him regarding the Growth Strategy this summer. First, a select group of senior hoteliers met with the Minister in Ottawa in July to discuss the needs of the sector. A big thank you to those that flew to Ottawa to attend the meeting. Next, HAC was also invited to the Minister’s riding in Edmonton to meet with him and a small group of national leaders in the tourism industry to further refine the Growth Strategy.
Next up will be a major lobbying effort in the Fall to get action on all the big, bold ideas in the growth Strategy. We will need a full court press to get this across the finish line. Stay tuned for more details on how you can support this work.
By Susie Grynol is the president of the Hotel Association of Canada.