Groundbreaking Work on Tourism Labour Market Intelligence

In this, the third installment of “milestone” articles we’re publishing to celebrate our 25th anniversary, we shine the spotlight on the origins of our research and labour market work, specifically the development of the national Total Tourism Sector Employment report.

When Tourism HR Canada released the inaugural Total Tourism Sector Employment report in 1998, it published the most comprehensive report on Canada’s tourism labour force up to that time.

The report contained profiles for twenty occupations, six industry groups, and the entire tourism sector, all based on the 1996 census. It also contained an overview of tourism employment for 1997, drawing on labour force survey data, and projections of tourism-related employment to 2002 and 2005, using the Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS). Due to its scope, the report and its subsequent editions became known as the report on Total Tourism Sector Employment (TTSE).

The development of the TTSE was made possible by the earlier creation of the Canadian Tourism Satellite Account. Historically, tourism faced difficulties being recognized as a sector because it emerged as an economic driver after the systems used to measure economic activity were already in place. While tourism has a long history, it started to become much more common in the 1950s, thanks to greater car ownership, the emergence of passenger jet travel, and Europe’s recovery following World War II.

The systems that measured economic activity included the components of tourism, such as hotels and recreation facilities, but they were scattered throughout other sectors of the economy. As tourism grew, the need to measure it as a discrete unit of economic activity also grew.

In 1991, resolutions adopted at the International Conference on Travel and Tourism Statistics, held in Ottawa, became the starting point of what would eventually become the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s Tourism Satellite Account Recommended Methodological Framework. The people working on this initiative were some of the brightest minds in the field. Even before they were adopted internationally, Canada was applying these measurements to its own systems of economic measurement. Twenty-nine tourism industries were identified within Canada’s System of National Accounts. This information could then be compiled to measure the tourism sector, as the framework could be applied to multiple datasets.

Tourism HR Canada continued to update and publish the TTSE as new data became available in 2004, 2005, and 2008. As aspects of the TTSE (such as the labour projections) became more refined, they evolved into their own projects and reports, including:

  • Tourism labour supply and demand studies
  • Demographic profiles of people working in tourism
  • Labour force survey reports

None of this groundbreaking work would have been possible if not for the assistance of the federal government in supplying the funding to undertake this important work—work that continues to inform business and policy decisions aimed at growing Canada’s share of the global tourism dollar. Funding over the next three years will assist Tourism HR Canada to continue to collect, analyse, and disseminate timely and accurate labour market information needed by a diverse group of stakeholders.

Our research has evolved with changes to the level and frequency of data released, such as the yearly labour force survey data morphing into monthly reports on employment and unemployment in the sector (see this month’s LFS update). Additionally, the census data that formed the core of the TTSE became the Who’s Working for You series of demographic profiles. The most recent series was published using 2011 census data—new versions featuring the just-released 2016 data are expected in the late spring of this year.

Subscribe to HR Insider to be the first to know when we release the new Who’s Working for You reports.