Canadian tourism spending was cut 48.1 percent in 2020 and tourism gross domestic product (GDP) plunged 47.9 percent, Statistics Canada said.
Tourism was among the hardest-hit sectors of the Canadian economy in 2020 as a result of physical distancing measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The country’s tourism spending in the first quarter of 2020 was stunted by the declaration of a global pandemic in mid-March and the accompanying physical distancing measures to prevent its spread.
The second quarter was almost entirely subject to these restrictions. Many restrictions were eased in the third quarter in conjunction with fewer COVID-19 cases, which provided more tourism spending opportunities.
The fourth quarter saw increased restrictions due to the second wave of the pandemic, limiting the availability of services generally purchased by tourists.
The decline in tourism spending in the fourth quarter was mostly driven by lower spending on food and beverage services, which fell 11.6 percent, and coincided with tighter restrictions on indoor dining.
Passenger air transport was down 72.4 percent, the largest contributor to the overall decline in tourism spending in 2020.
Tourism GDP decreased 3.3 percent, reflecting the weaker spending on tourism components as the overall economy grew 2.3 percent in the fourth quarter in 2020.
Economy-wide GDP fell 5.4 percent at a much slower pace in 2020 than the tourism sector which plummeted 47.9 percent. This contributed to a decline in tourism’s share of GDP, which fell from 2 percent in 2019 to 1.1 percent in 2020.
The domestic tourism spending dropped 38.6 percent in 2020, but its share of total tourism spending rose from 78.4 percent in 2019 to 92.7 percent in the wake of the collapse of international visitors as a result of border closures to non-essential travel.
Meanwhile, the tourism spending by international visitors declined 82.5 percent in 2020, with most of the spending occurring before the borders were closed in mid-March 2020.
As a result, the share of tourism exports to total tourism spending fell from 21.6 percent in 2019 to 7.3 percent in 2020.