Tourism’s slow march back to normal
Tourism spending started to improve during the last two quarters of 2021
By Rob Roach, ATB Economics 31 March 2022 1 min read
In 2019, inflation-adjusted tourism* spending in Canada stood at $95.4 billion. Enter COVID-19 and spending was cut in half in 2020, falling to $48.7 billion (-49.0%).
Things were not much better in 2021, with total spending coming in at $50.8 billion or 46.7% below the pre-pandemic bar.
On the bright side, spending started to improve during the last two quarters of 2021. At $29.5 billion, tourism revenue was $8.3 billion higher than over the same two quarters in 2020.
That there is still a long way to go before things are back to normal in the tourism sector is attested to by the fact that spending over the second half of last year was still $18.2 billion lower than over the same six months in 2019.
Encouragingly for those businesses that rely on international visitors, at $2.5 billion, expenditures by foreign tourists were almost 23 times higher during the fourth quarter of 2021 than the second quarter of 2020 when they were just $108 million.
Once again, even though the drop in spending created by the pandemic was smaller by the fourth quarter of last year, it remained significant with foreign expenditures still $3.9 billion lower than they were at the end of 2019.
As long as pandemic-related public health restrictions remain looser in 2022, we should see the gap between pre-COVID and post-COVID tourism spending continue to shrink.
*Tourism is defined as “the activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes.”
Answer to the previous trivia question: While the origin of the phrase is contested, “in like a lion, out like a lamb” typically refers to the fact that it’s winter at the start of March but spring at the end.
Today’s trivia question: Why is April first sometimes called “April Gowk?”