Canada's Tourism Labour Market in the Current Economic Climate

Economic Situation

Fostering its mandate to provide accurate, timely labour market information to the tourism sector, the CTHRC has been closely monitoring the impact of the economic crisis on the tourism labour force.

The most current CTHRC research indicates there is no evidence yet of a decline in employment levels within the overall Canadian tourism sector. In many regions of the country, the sector has been affected by a labour shortage. Due to a diminishing labour pool, employers have previously been unable to fill positions created by retiring workers and a rising demand for tourism products.

Since the downturn in the economy began, the pool of potential labour talent available to tourism employers has increased. Many employers are now receiving resumes for vacancies that had no applicants a year ago. Tourism employers in previously tight labour markets are seeing a return to more normal business operations. Nationally, most employers in the sector are not yet markedly concerned about the state of the Canadian tourism economy. Significant regional variations exist, however.

The research notes that new issues appear to be emerging for employers, such as finding potential employees with the required skills and experience. Employers are still having trouble finding the "right" employees for the jobs they have to offer. The Council will continue to address these issues and act as the sector’s source for training and HR resources.

To date, the majority of businesses have not let people go, although some larger firms are reporting layoffs and/or reduced hours of work and are cautious about the timing of a return to normal employment levels. There are indications that a slowdown in the growth rate for labour demand is emerging.

Other research sources see a slowing in tourism product demand from some markets. The most recent Tourism Snapshot from the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) shows that trips to Canada in December 2008 decreased by 3% from the Americas and 9.1% from overseas key markets when compared to the same month in 2007.

However, CTC’s study also showed that travel to Canada increased from Germany (8.5%) and China (4%) over the same time frame. Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island saw an increase in American visitors in 2008. Additionally, the Hotel Association of Canada released data from its 2009 Canadian Travel Intentions survey, indicating 74% of Canadians intend to travel in Canada either for business or leisure in 2009.

Other data sources, including Statistics Canada and the Canadian Tourism Research Institute, show that outbound demand from the Canadian market has continued to grow throughout 2008, albeit at a somewhat reduced pace.

The seasonal nature of the tourism sector means that the full impact of the economy on the sector will not be visible until June, when tourism demand and employment traditionally peak. The Council will continue to examine employment levels closely and provide timely feedback.

Preliminary research forecasts a short-term narrowing of the gap between current labour supply and demand within the Canadian tourism sector, but projects a return to a growing labour shortage in coming years.

Keep visiting our website for the latest tourism labour market news, details on the most recent CTHRC research, and up-to-date data collected from a number of other sources.

Current CTHRC projects include actively monitoring labour market conditions, producing updates of the Tourism Supply and Demand Study and the National Compensation Study, and planning a review and adjustment of the Council’s Strategic Plan by its Board of Directors at its June meeting.