(Toronto – October 25, 2021) – With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario’s tourism industry was one of the hardest-hit – and it will be one of the last to fully recover. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) is pleased to announce its partnership with the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) to support the sector’s economic recovery.
In early 2022, the OCC and TIAO will host two roundtables that will bring together tourism operators, industry experts, associations, chambers of commerce, and boards of trade across the province. The insights gathered during these consultations will inform a joint report examining the state of Ontario’s tourism industry after two unprecedented years navigating a global pandemic. The report will include a ‘ground-level’ look at the industry’s recovery, its path forward, and timely recommendations to government.
“We are pleased to partner with TIAO on this important initiative as many pandemic restrictions such as border closures resulted in significant revenue loss, mounting debt, and much uncertainty for the travel and tourism industries,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce.
“Representing $36 billion of Ontario’s GDP, tourism is a vital sector for Ontario’s economy and its industries are critical for our economic recovery.”
“While emergency grants, loans, and tax relief programs have helped these businesses keep their doors open, these supports are temporary. It’s clear that many challenges lie ahead, and what’s needed is a forward-looking strategy to support small tourism operators in the short-term – and ensure the sector’s future growth,” added Rossi.
In 2018, Ontario was home to 200,000 tourism businesses. The sector employed 400,000 Ontarians across a range of sub-sectors, including culture and heritage, recreation, entertainment, food and beverage, attractions, transportation, accommodation, and travel services. The sector also contributed over $5 billion in annual tax revenues for the province, and benefited numerous adjacent industries.
“The tourism sector faced several obstacles prior to COVID-19 – ranging from labour challenges to regulatory burden,” adds Chris Bloore, President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario. “These challenges have been magnified in the last 19-months, and experts don’t expect the sector to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023. As Ontarians return to a new normal, our sector can’t be left behind.”
“We’re proud to partner with the Ontario Chamber to help the province chart a path forward – to ensure tourism remains a national economic contributor and Ontario continues to be a competitive tourism destination within Canada and globally,” added Bloore.
About the Ontario Chamber of Commerce
For more than a century, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has been the independent, non-partisan, indispensable partner of Ontario business. The OCC’s mission is to support economic growth in Ontario by defending business priorities at Queen’s Park on behalf of its network’s diverse 60,000 members.
About the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO)
The Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) is recognized by government as the voice of tourism. TIAO works on behalf of its membership, collectively representing 188,000 businesses and 391,000 employees. TIAO propels the powerful and innovative Ontario tourism industry by connecting tourism leaders, innovators, government, and educators through events and conferences. TIAO is proud to host the largest gathering of tourism leaders, educators, businesses, and government officials in Canada, at the annual Ontario Tourism Summit.