Tourism spending in Canada fell 14.2 per cent in the first quarter—the largest decline on record—in the wake of measures imposed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in March, reported Statistics Canada on Tuesday.
The federal agency said tourism gross domestic product (GDP) decreased 14.8 per cent, while jobs attributable to tourism fell 6.5 per cent, both also the largest quarterly declines since the data series began in 1986.
“Spending was down in all major tourism categories, led by passenger air transport (-15.7 per cent), food and beverage services (-15.5 per cent) and accommodation (-13.8 per cent). The decline in spending on passenger rail transport (-39.1 per cent) was particularly severe, with rail blockades also resulting in a number of route cancellations earlier in the quarter,” it said.
StatsCan said food and beverage services (-8.9 per cent) and accommodation (-6.9 per cent) contributed most to the decline in tourism employment. Tourism employment in air transportation (-1.9 per cent) also decreased.
“Tourism spending by Canadians in Canada dropped 12.9 per cent in the first quarter, following no change in the previous quarter. Domestic tourism accounted for 79 per cent of tourism spending . . . Tourism spending by international visitors to Canada fell by a record 18.8 per cent in the first quarter, following a 0.2 per cent increase in the fourth quarter of 2019. The number of travellers to Canada fell sharply, as travel was restricted and borders closed to contain the spread of COVID-19 during the second half of March. The Canadian border was closed to non-essential foreign travellers from countries other than the United States on March 18, and to those from the United States on March 21.”