For Immediate Release

March 20, 2020 (Ottawa) – The Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) is warning that without immediate support from the federal government, Canada’s $100 billion+ tourism sector will see monumental job losses over the coming days and weeks – in fact, this has already begun.

“Outside of the health sector, Canada’s tourism and travel industry is the most severely impacted sector in Canada from the ongoing measures enacted to curb the COVID-19 global pandemic – and unfortunately, there is no end in sight,” said Charlotte Bell, President and CEO of TIAC. “TIAC has been in constant contact with the federal government on what our members are doing to help curb the spread. However, without tourists or local visitors, the tourism industry has grinded to a complete halt. Now, the industry’s more-than 200,000 businesses are facing a dire situation without immediate support.” 

The federal government’s recent announcements for $10 billion in available credit through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada, as well as the $82 billion aid package are important first steps for impacted Canadians. However, TIAC’s internal analysis shows that without immediate and substantial industry-specific support from the federal government, the vast majority of the 1.8 million Canadians employed in the sector could be without a job within weeks.

“The measures announced this week were general in nature, and not targeted specifically at any one sector – these are important steps but do not address the devastating impact on this sector,” said Bell. “The actions taken to curb COVID-19 such as the closure of Canada’s borders to international visitors, suspension of international flights around the world, and the shutdown of restaurants and entertainment venues have disproportionally impacted the tourism and travel industry causing an almost total halt of tourism activity resulting in massive job losses, hotel closures and precipitous cancellations of events of all kinds. These are all businesses that rely on tourists and locals alike to survive.” 

An internal analysis done by TIAC shows that nearly 778,000 jobs could be lost with a 70% reduction in tourism revenue if the federal government does not take immediate action. These numbers were calculated based on data from the 2008/2009 recession – a time when tourism levels dropped but local visitors were still able to sustain the livelihood of many businesses. “In today’s reality, the numbers will be much worse than 2009 given the absence of locals to help sustain the viability of businesses,” added Bell.

TIAC is urgently calling on a number of measures from the federal government to support the sector and keep these small businesses alive during this global health pandemic. These measures include:

  • Specialized or fast-tracked liquidity options for businesses operating in the tourism and travel sector – as much as $6 billion per month for the tourism-sector alone to ensure workers stay employed and businesses afloat;
  • Support for Airlines and Airports – including rent payment deferrals, suspension of industry specific taxes and financial relief for reduced cash flow; 

  • Recovery Funding
  • Significant stimulus funding to ensure the industry can quickly rebound once the outbreak is over, including increased marketing funds to promote Canada after the crisis has passed as we know from the SARS outbreak that tourism can bounce back quickly and Canada must capitalize on that opportunity;
  • Put in place various programs to get people moving again and exploring Canada’s many treasures. For example, a free national park pass program much like the one put into place during Canada’s 150th celebrations would be most helpful in encouraging Canadians to rediscover their country.

“1.8 million Canadians employed in the tourism and travel sector are directly impacted by this health pandemic – and a number of hotels and small businesses employing them are days away from shutting down” said Bell. “We are calling on the government to directly support this sector and ensure we are alive and able to continue highlighting the best of Canada once this health crisis subsides.” 


For Media Inquiries, please contact: 

Marcela Diaz
Director, Public Affairs and Communications
Tourism Industry Association of Canada
t: 613-238-6378