Ontario’s Tourism Industry Needs Comprehensive Growth Strategy
Toronto/Windsor, December 14, 2022 – While domestic and inbound tourism improved in the latter half of 2022, the industry is not expected to fully recover from the pandemic until 2025 – a situation that looks grimmer as a recession approaches, cost of living goes up, and consumer spending behaviour shifts. Ontario’s tourism sector is calling for a comprehensive strategy to address ongoing impacts of COVID-19 border closures, capacity restrictions, and structural issues.
In need of a path forward, the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) and Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) released The State of the Ontario Tourism Industry Report, offering a blueprint to support the industry’s recovery and growth.
“The holidays are a perfect time for family and friends to discover adventures in Ontario. However, consumers are pinching their wallets as cost-of-living skyrockets, and a recession looms large – weakening the recovery trajectory for Ontario’s tourism industry,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO, OCC. “We need a comprehensive strategy to safeguard the ailing sector and support its sustainable recovery.”
“Ontario can and should be at the top of every tourist’s bucket list. Representing $36 billion of Ontario’s GDP, tourism is a vital sector in the provincial economy and is critical for our economic recovery,” said Christopher Bloore, President and CEO, TIAO. “A provincial strategy must address workforce development strategies, regulatory burdens, infrastructure deficits, and regional disparities.”
“While there have been promising signs showing a pickup in visitation for the tourism industry since the start of the pandemic, we realize the next two years are critical for a full turnaround and recovery” said Gordon Orr, CEO of Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island. The State of the Ontario Tourism Industry Report released by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario emphatically calls out to the critical areas our province needs to focus on to ensure for a rebound – workforce challenges, infrastructural shortfalls, government regulation, and regional inconsistences. As a border market and destination, it is imperative to create and support impactful initiatives which will further stimulate visitation from the highly coveted neighbouring U.S. market.”
“Tourism is a major part of the Windsor-Essex economy that employs thousands of workers” said Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce President Rakesh Naidu. “Our local tourism sector was hit especially hard with the border closure preventing so many Americans from coming over. We know that so many local businesses rely on that mix of Canadian and American consumers crossing the border. Businesses have struggled to return to pre-pandemic levels despite removing the border restrictions. Right now, it is crucial for people to support local businesses to help them get through the next few months.”
Key recommendations from the report include:
- Focus workforce development strategies on making the case for careers in the tourism industry, reforming immigration to help alleviate regional and sector disparities and optimizing work placement opportunities for post-secondary students.
- Tap into underexplored markets from Indigenous and Francophone tourism sectors and emerging industries, such as cannabis.
- Eliminate barriers to growth by revisiting taxes for the industry, such as the annual basic beer tax increase, federal excise taxes and municipal accommodation taxes.
- Address major infrastructure gaps from public transportation and roads to housing and broadband.
The report draws on input from tourism industry operators, experts, associations, chambers of commerce and boards of trade, and education leaders across the province. The OCC and TIAO thank Ontario’s Ministers of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture and Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development for their engagement in industry roundtables that informed the report.
The recommendations of the State of the Ontario Tourism Industry Report underpin both organizations’ advocacy efforts as they work to rebuild and grow Ontario’s tourism industry to ensure that it remains a world-class destination. Read the report here.
We would like to thank our Lead Partner, Labatt Canada, and our Supporting Partners, Greater Toronto Airports Authority, Ontario Federation of Agriculture,Ontario Tourism Education Corporation and Seneca College.