Is tourism starting to make a comeback?

September 28, 2023

After a brutal couple of pandemic-driven years, it appears tourism may be starting to make a comeback.

Over in Manitoba, reports Global News, “hotel occupancies are back to 2019 levels month over month, indicating the tourism industry is making a full recovery from disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“This is the year of tourism,” states Nathalie Thiesen of Economic Development Winnipeg in the article.

More people have been coming to the city’s events, such as the Winnipeg International Jazz Festival, Fringe Theatre Festival, Folk Fest and Folkorama, the article notes.

“It’s great for downtown and the recovery of some of the hardest hit businesses and areas of the city,” states Thiesen in the article.

It’s a similar story in B.C., reports the Richmond News. There, tourism-related employment has just hit a five-year high.

“New Statistics Canada data show 362,000 tourism employees in B.C. in July, up 6,500 from the 355,500 employees in June, and the most jobs in the sector since August 2018, when there were 368,000 employees, according to Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey,” the article notes.

“The 2023 numbers compare with 359,250 tourism employees in the province in July 2019, and 351,750 tourism employees in B.C. in June 2019,” the News reports.

Nationwide, the numbers are beginning to return to “normal,” reports the Hamilton Spectator.

Marc Seguin of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada tells the Spectator that as recently as 2019, Canada “achieved $105 billion in total tourism spending, with $42 billion of that figure stemming from business travel.”

During the pandemic, Seguin states in the article, “total tourism spending dropped by half and business events dropped to near zero.”

Business trips are increasing, the article notes, with 6.4 million business trips logged for the last quarter of 2022 — still down from the 7.2 million in the last quarter of 2019.

An important factor impacting the rebound of travel is, of course, inflation, the article points out.

“People are willing to spend more at the moment to travel,” states Frederic Dimanche of the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Toronto Metropolitan University in the article. “That leverages the airlines or the hotels to set their prices at a higher level than they used to, because they want to make up for lost revenues during the COVID crisis.”

But the rising cost of travelling may be starting to hamper tourism’s recovery, warns CTV News Regina.

“Over the past three years, the tourism industry had been clawing its way back to pre-pandemic numbers, however, a new report by TD Bank found the pace of recovery started to slow this year,” the broadcaster reports.

The TD report cites “financial challenges in Canada, such as higher interest rates, a slowing job market and broader tourism slowdowns seen both domestically and internationally” as the chief reasons for the slowing recovery.

While Alberta and B.C. visits are beginning to approach 2019 levels again, the rebound is slower in Saskatchewan, the article notes.

“Saskatchewan… has lagged when it comes to international travel. Visits to the Prairie province are 40 per cent below the 2019 average,” CTV reports, adding that the TD report suggests “this decline might be in part due to same-day tourists, whose numbers have fallen at less than 50 per cent pre-pandemic levels.”

Let’s hope this overall tourism recovery continues — there’s a lot of spin-off benefits from tourism that help the economy.

Travelling, as the articles note, can be a little pricey — even a car trip requires gas, maybe hotels, restaurant meals and so on. Factor in rail or airfare or cruise ship costs and the impact on your wallet grows. That’s why saving for retirement — the period of your life when you’ll have the most time for travelling — is important.

If you haven’t started saving for retirement, consider signing up for the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. SPP will grow your savings dollars in a pooled, professionally managed fund at a very competitive cost. When it’s time to update the passport and book tickets, SPP is able to convert your savings into retirement income, including the option of a lifetime monthly annuity payment. Be sure to check out SPP today!

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

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