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Study finds Canada’s tourism industry lost $52 billion in 2021

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Ontario has taken the biggest hit of all the provinces with a net profit loss of $24.9 billion in 2021 compared to 2019

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The tourism losses in Canada keep climbing as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic takes its toll on travel with borders closures, limited flying and everchanging protocols.

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A new study by Hellosafe.ca, a French-based insurance tech company operating in several countries , says Canada’s tourism industry lost $52 billion in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic 2019.

And the most affected province in terms of net profit loss is Ontario at $24.9 billion in 2021 compared to 2019.

“Actually, I was very surprised when we put together the numbers because I didn’t expect so big losses,“ HelloSafe spokesperson Alex Desoutter said.

“However, if you consider that Ontario in 2019 had an annual revenue concerning tourism of $50 billion, I mean it’s a huge industry, so of course the COVID pandemic hit it very bad. (And), of course, the proximity of the U.S. border (normally) makes it an easy destination for the American tourists, so it’s not surprising that the revenues have fallen.”

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Desoutter said tourism accounts for 2% of Canada’s GDP.

“It’s quite big,” he said.

In 2020 and 2021, Desoutter said Canadian citizens have been the ones keeping the country’s tourism industry alive, even if “those travels were also affected by the crisis. For example, people from British Columbia couldn’t travel to Quebec, etc., so it’s important to consider that.”

Desoutter said Canadians spent almost $50 billion travelling the country in 2020 compared to only $4 billion spent by foreigners.

He also said almost 100,000 jobs were not created in the tourism industry, largely in catering, in 2021 compared to 2019.

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“That’s quite a big loss,” said Desoutter.

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Desoutter said the delta variant of COVID-19 dashed any hopes for a major tourism industry recovery this year, but he’s hopeful the rebound could start to happen in the spring of 2022.

“Because of the vaccine, of course, it’s a major factor of hope,” he said. “I think the vaccine passports will help a lot of people travelling and sustain the tourism industry.”

“We expect tourism revenue in Canada to grow around 30% over the next year in comparison with this year,” Desoutter said. “In Ontario, we’re expecting around a 45% gross (increase).”

jstevenson@postmedia.com

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