Canada’s tourism sector shrank by nearly half in 2020 as the volatile, pandemic-stricken year was capped off by a 3.3% decrease in its fourth quarter and was down 47.9% annually.
Tourism spending in Canada also declined 2.0% in the fourth quarter and tourism-related jobs fell 28.7 per cent annually, with most of the drop happening in Q2.
These are just some of the latest numbers to come out of a new report released by Statistics Canada on March 31 highlighting COVID-19’s impact on national tourism.
“Tourism was among the hardest hit sectors of the economy in 2020 as a result of physical distancing measures to contain the spread of COVID-19,” Statistics Canada states on its website.
Domestic tourism declines
In 2020, domestic tourism spending declined 38.6%, but at the same time, domestic tourism's share of total spending in Canada rose to 92.7 per cent, from 78.4 per cent in 2019.
This is linked to the collapse of international visitors due to border closures and non-essential travel restrictions.
Still, tourism spending in Canada by Canadians decreased 3.4% in the fourth quarter, the report says.
That quarter, notably, saw increased restrictions in many provinces during the second wave of the pandemic, limiting the availability of services generally purchased by tourists.
The quarterly decline was also partially offset by higher spending on passenger air transport, Statistics Canada reports.
Tourism spending by international visitors to Canada rose 99.3% in the fourth quarter, following record low levels in the two previous quarters.
“Despite the increase, spending was well below pre-pandemic levels,” the report says.
Furthermore. spending by international visitors declined 82.5% in 2020, with most of the spending occurring before the borders were closed in mid-March.
As a result, the share of tourism exports to total tourism spending fell from 21.6% in 2019 to 7.3% in 2020.
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