NEWS BRIEFS update as of Nov. 10, 2020

Tourism HR Canada predicts a long road to recovery

OTTAWA — In September, tourism employment increased slightly by 4,200 jobs. This was the fifth month of increased employment since it began to recover in May.

It is very unusual to see tourism employment increase in September. Since 2001, when THRC’s customized tourism labour force survey data began, there has never been an increase in tourism employment from August to September. In fact, since 2001, tourism employment has decreased 5.5 per cent on average in September.

Tourism has gained back 576,400 of the 881,700 jobs lost in March and April. The increase in September probably occurred because tourism employment started from such a low point in May. Increasing demand continued to drive employment upwards. But tourism employment was also 360,500 jobs lower than it was in September 2019, showing that tourism employment has a long road to recovery yet.

It is also important to note that the data was collected for the week of September 13 to 19. At that time, an upward trend in COVID infections was occurring, with over 800 new cases in Canada announced on the 19th. The data does not capture any change caused by the reimplementation of restrictions in Montreal, Toronto, Quebec City, Ottawa, Peel, and York. Nor does it reflect any changes announced in Winnipeg this week.

Highlights:

  • Tourism added 4,200 jobs in September.
  • Only Ontario and British Columbia added jobs — tourism employment decreased in all other provinces.
  • The tourism unemployment rate has fallen to 13.4 per cent, which remains 5.0 percentage points higher than the overall unemployment rate.
  • On a year-over-year basis, seasonally unadjusted employment across all Canadian industries was down 3.6 per cent from September 2019. In comparison, tourism employment was down 19.8 per cent from the same month a year ago.

IHG looks to entertainment and sports groups

ATLANTA — As travel resumes, mitigated by robust industry efforts around cleanliness and safety, IHG Hotels & Resorts, which includes brands such as Holiday Inn, InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Staybridge Suites and Kimpton, is seeing gains in group business with entertainment and sports leading the way.

The show must go on – “Film and television productions are looking for responsible ways to keep their projects on track and produce content for 2021 and beyond. Many productions are utilizing our hotels in cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, San Diego and Manchester, England to create ‘bubbles’ for crews to sequester while filming,” stated Derek DeCross, SVP Global Sales, IHG Hotels & Resorts. “Bookings for Q3 alone have more than doubled year-over-year in this vertical. This boost in business allowed at least two IHG Hotels & Resorts properties to reopen sooner than anticipated. It is a testament to the committed efforts of hotels to integrate IHG’s signature, enhanced IHG Way of Clean standard into virtual site inspections.”

Play to win – Sports has seen month-to-month improvement since May and, through August, has accounted for more than a third of all booked group business with larger bookings slated for 2021 and beyond. Strength in youth (17 and under) sports bookings (primarily baseball and hockey) have been driven by IHG’s trusted, mainstream brand such as Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express. While college and university sports bookings are down this year, the company anticipates a return once tournaments and events resume.

More bright spots – In addition to sports and entertainment, IHG Hotels & Resorts has also seen optimism in other sectors. There was a notable gain in medical and pharma related bookings in August and the company also saw the biggest increase in bookings from the automotive industry since January. Bookings in the professional services vertical, particularly legal, saw growth in Q3 and are beginning to rebound after bottoming out in Q2.

Marriott enters the work-from-hotel market

Marriott joined the growing work-from-hotel trend recently, a sign the world’s biggest hotel companies see offering up guest rooms as office replacements as a viable business.

The Work Anywhere with Marriott Bonvoy platform includes a variety of options, from day use to multi-day, at a select number of Marriott properties. Marriott will then potentially expand it across its global portfolio, depending on demand levels at those hotels.

“That allows us to look at consumer behavior, look at operations of the hotel, and make tweaks along the way,” said Peggy Roe, global officer of customer experience at Marriott. “If and when we scale it, it will be thoughtfully designed to work.”

Marriott offers three tiers to Work Anywhere. The day pass allows guests to book a stay from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. at between a 25 percent to 50 percent discount off a regular overnight reservation. Guests have access to all the regular amenities of the hotel and rapid in-room Wi-Fi — a key selling point in wooing guests to work from a Marriott in lieu of a family home, Roe said.

PEI faces tough times

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — Late last month, the Tourism Industry Association of Prince Edward Island (TIAPEI) launched a ten-week awareness campaign, NOW more than ever #tourismcounts, to educate Islanders of the harsh reality that PEI’s tourism industry is facing.  As part of the campaign, TIAPEI is urging Islanders to pledge their support to PEI’s tourism industry so it can survive and continue to contribute to our province’s economy. 
 
Closed borders, restrictions and reduced capacities due to COVID-19 have devastated Prince Edward Island’s tourism industry. Without an exact timeframe as to when restrictions will be lifted, and when business can start again in a meaningful way, many Island tourism businesses are vulnerable, concerned about their future, and some are facing permanent closure.
 
The necessary public health measures that we support as an industry have impacted tourism harder than any other industry. Restaurants, bars, attractions, hotels, shops, and other small businesses are all at severe economic risk right now and many will not survive the current crisis. The loss of these businesses will be devastating, not only for the owners and employees whose livelihood depends on them, but for our communities and Island economy.
 
“The tourism industry was the first to close and will be the last to recover. Prince Edward Island tourism expenditures are expected to be down 56 per cent, with some of our hardest hit sectors down between 80-100%, says Corryn Clemence, CEO of TIAPEI.  “The Prince Edward Island Tourism industry employs thousands of islanders. Due to the impacts of COVID-19 many of these jobs are at risk,” concludes Clemence.
 
Tourism contributes three times more to Prince Edward Island’s economy than in any other Canadian province, generating over 6% of GDP. Without visitors, this contribution to the Island’s economy will be drastically cut, impacting our Island way of life.
 

Regina council passes Airbnb regs

Tracy Fahlman, president and CEO, Regina Hotel Association.

REGINA — Regina Airbnb and short-term accommodation (STA) rentals will now need a licence in order to operate in the city, according to a Global News report. Council unanimously voted in favour of bylaw changes that will make licences $100 for a primary residence and $300 for a secondary residence. Failure to licence or advertising without a valid licence number will result in a $1,000 fine. In comparison, licensing fees for residential businesses are $225 and it doesn’t require a licence for a commercially zoned business such as a hotel or motel.

These regulations are welcomed by the Regina Hotel Association (RHA), which calls the licensing changes “fair and reasonable.” Tracy Fahlman, RHA president and CEO, told council that the hotel industry is facing an uncertain future because of COVID-19.

“Hotel owners have suffered devastating revenue losses since March. Now more than ever we need competitive fairness,” she said. “Regulatory changes to the residential sector of our industry will make a remarkable difference.”

Indigenous tourism to grab more market share

COAST SALISH TERRITORY, B.C. — With the COVID-19 pandemic shifting travel domestically in 2020 — and probably 2021 — Indigenous-tourism businesses can significantly grow their local Canadian traveller base, according to a study by Insignia Marketing Research.

The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) commissioned Insignia earlier this year to conduct a study aimed at understanding both the relevance and potential relevance of Indigenous tourism and cultural experiences within the domestic-travel market. The survey’s findings show COVID-19 disruption has created an unprecedented, industry-wide opportunity for Indigenous tourism and cultural experiences.

Conducted in August, the market research noted COVID-19 has induced travel-related attitudinal and behavioural shifts that have made Indigenous experiences more favourable to the Canadian domestic visitor. The study also determined, however, that Indigenous-tourism experiences were not yet top-of-mind with travellers who were now turning to explore Canada, while international borders remain closed.

Together, these findings indicate that the ideal time is now to leverage these shifts by supporting and showcasing ITAC and its members. This supports the need to continue rolling out a comprehensive domestic awareness and education campaign — leveraging the launch of Destination Indigenous and this summer’s Escape From Home marketing campaign — as originally outlined in ITAC’s four-year, $50 million Strategic Recovery Plan presented in March.