OTTAWA — The Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) launched its first in-person Hill Days advocacy campaign in two years, with a special reception in downtown Ottawa at the Wellington Building last week. More than 60 TIAC members gathered with 50 Parliamentarians and other government officials.
This year, TIAC aims to raise awareness of the key challenges now faced by the industry as it emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic. With the removal of the last travel restrictions earlier this month, the association has set a goal to recover by the end of 2025.
However, the latest research indicates the total tourism labour force remains 203,000 workers short (down 9.2 per cent) in comparison to May 2019, according to Tourism HR Canada. Additionally, the Conference Board of Canada’s latest travel report says total overnight overseas visits are not expected to fully surpass their pre-pandemic level until 2026.
In its recent submission to guide the federal government in its development of a new Tourism Growth Strategy, TIAC outlined key priorities to help tourism re-build and position it for future growth. The organization’s plan is centred on four key pillars of action: attract and retain a sustainable tourism workforce; improve access for visitors to and within Canada; develop and promote tourism assets; and build a re-generative and inclusive tourism industry.
“Despite some improvement over the last few months, tourism businesses continue to struggle financially, face barriers to attracting investment, and have considerable challenges attracting and retaining the necessary workforce to run their operations,” says Beth Potter, president and CEO of TIAC. Among those challenges hampering tourism’s recovery are disruptions to supply chains, a worsening labour shortage, inflation at a 40-year high and rising interest rates. As the industry first hit and hardest hit [by the pandemic], these obstacles require strong public-sector support to stimulate the most robust recovery of our suite of sectors.”