Travel restrictions have made enthusiasts discover local attractions

 Monday, May 10, 2021 


International travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have made many travel aficionados to discover local and regional tourist destinations. Nevertheless, communities have been affected very differently from increased numbers of domestic tourists.

In Canada, the impact on international travel due to COVID-19 was witnessed with a decrease of 614,000 international arrivals to Canada in March 2020. That is a 92-per-cent decrease over 2019 — a loss that is yet to be recovered.

Travel restrictions played a pivotal role in changing around 20 million holiday and leisure trips abroad by Canadian residents to domestic destinations. Boosting domestic travel now occupies a central role for federal and provincial government strategies for limiting losses in tourism.

Canadians choosing to visit domestic destinations over the past year have brought an increase in domestic tourism and also total tourism expenditures from 78.4 per cent in 2019 to 92.7 per cent in 2020. However, trips made by Canadians in Canada only partially made up for the losses associated with international tourists, with tourism spending in Canada declining by almost 50 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019.

However, not all destinations are equally affected. There is a difference in employment levels in the accommodation and food services in large Canadian cities like Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver compared to other small and mid-sized cities in 2020.

The largest Canadian cities, which are typically major tourist destinations and gateways for international visitors, have witnessed radical drops in tourists and tourism spending.

For example, Toronto lost $8.35 billion in 2020 due to cancelations of many tourism activities concerning events, festivals, conventions and business conferences. In Ottawa, hotel occupancy rates declined by 70 per cent during the pandemic, with the tourism sector losing almost half of the revenue gathered in 2019.

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