Tourism Skips a Beat: Ontario’s Travel Markets Outlook to 2024

The Conference Board of Canada, 13 pages, February 18, 2021
Issue briefing
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This report contains a review of and outlook for tourism activity in Ontario, assessing the impact of COVID-19 and the public health restrictions on tourism. It examines domestic, U.S., and overseas activity as well as considering the situation in Ottawa, Toronto, and Niagara Falls.

Document Highlights

  • A rising number of new cases of COVID-19 in December 2020 continue to plague the Ontario tourism market along with the broader provincial economy. Stricter lockdowns will weigh heavily on both interprovincial and international tourism.
  • We project that total visits to the province will have declined considerably in 2020 with overnight visits dropping by even more.
  • Total expenditures will recover slightly faster than will visits as tourism prices are likely to increase in the wake of the pandemic. In many cases, these price increases will be essential to the survival of many firms as the tourism industry was heavily impacted by the pandemic.
  • Tourism’s recovery in the province faces a long road ahead but wide distribution of vaccines will allow traveller confidence to recover. Pent-up demand for travel may manifest itself in increased travel activity in the latter half of 2021. The first requirement was the development of a safe, trusted, and widely available vaccine.
  • Some of the changes in travel patterns brought about by the pandemic, including a preference for local visits, could be long-lasting. U.S. and overseas travel to the province will not reach pre-pandemic levels even by 2024.
  • Business travel declined dramatically in 2020, falling much more than pleasure visits. Virtual meetings, now a necessity, may turn into a preferred method of business communication even after the pandemic subsides.

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