Canada can’t afford to fall behind

If Canada fails to address the critical shortage of hospitality workers, inadequate air access throughout the country and a shortfall in hotel accommodations, we risk losing a staggering $20 billion in potential revenue growth by 2030, according to a recent tourism outlook report.

The Destination Canada study found that Canada’s overall tourism spending soared to $109.5 billion in 2023, surpassing pre-COVID levels. If we continue on this track, annual tourism revenue is projected to reach $140 billion by 2030.

While this sounds promising, the reality is that without addressing “serious capacity constraints,” Canada will miss the opportunity to push 2030 revenue to $160 billion, and to compete more effectively for international visitors.

Looking ahead to 2030, the report says:
• Canada will require 20,000 more hotel rooms.
• Hospitality employment will fall 12% short of demand.
• Domestic and international air routes will require 30% more seats, along with increased frequency and seasonality of service.

While the report doesn’t address sport tourism specifically, it’s clear that our sector has the potential to propel Canada towards the $160-billion target.

To achieve this goal, Canada must ramp up infrastructure investment and stimulate tourism demand during off-peak periods, while also attracting high-spending tourists, the report suggests.

This is where sporting events and business conferences play a pivotal role. These events occur year-round, filling hotel rooms, restaurants, arenas and stadiums during those crucial off-season months when leisure tourism has slowed down. Cities like Montreal, Calgary, Ottawa and Hamilton, Ont., are already investing billions of dollars into downtown sports and entertainment infrastructure.

However, more action is needed. With fierce competition among nations to regain international tourism market share, Canada cannot afford to fall behind. Our industry can thrive only if we advocate for the removal of legislative barriers, attract and expedite new investments, and support initiatives for sustainable growth.

Published March 2024

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