Briefing Note on the Tourism-Related Jobs at Risk in Niagara from the COVID-19 Coronavirus – April 15, 2020

Posted in News, COVID-19

Briefing Note on the Tourism-Related Jobs at Risk in Niagara from the COVID-19 Coronavirus – April 15, 2020

As part of NWPB’s ongoing effort to provide updates on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, this briefing note outlines the known and potential impacts of the virus on the tourism sector.

The tourism sector is already facing significant hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic. The March update to Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey reported 3,000 fewer Niagara residents employed in the accommodation and food services industry. This represents an 11.5% decrease in total employment within this industry in a single month. This figure is expected to increase in the coming months.

Local employers in accommodation and food services reported the largest forecast revenue loss due to COVID-19 of any local industry sector. Specifically, accommodation and food services employers noted that over three months they expected to lose $171.6 million in revenues[1]. If current conditions continue for six months, they anticipate a revenue loss of $342.7 million.

With 148 Niagara employers in accommodation and food services already reporting 76%-100% reductions in staff, the balance of this briefing note examines the maximum potential employment losses that Niagara might expect to its tourism economy.

Tourism Sectors - Niagara region 2019 Jobs, Excluding Self-Employment Percentage of Tourism-Related Jobs
Food and Beverage Sector 17,411 48.6%
Accommodations Sector 8,034 22.4%
Recreation and Entertainment Sector 7,418 20.7%
Transportation Sector 2,573 7.2%
Travel Services Sector 402 1.1%
Total 35,837 100.00%

Source: EMSI Analyst, 2019.3 dataset, employees



Niagara housed an estimated 35,837 tourism-related jobs in the 2019 calendar year, including both full-time and part-time jobs[2]. These tourism-related jobs represent an estimated 19.2% of total jobs in Niagara. While it cannot be said that every one of these jobs directly and exclusively serves tourists, it can be assumed that major changes in tourism would have a direct impact on employment in these jobs.

Niagara housed 3,478 tourism-related self-employment jobs throughout 2019. These individuals are also likely to face continued disruption due to the COVID-19 virus. Tourism-related self-employment represents an estimated 10.7% of total self-employment jobs in Niagara.

Tourism Sectors - Niagara region 2019 Jobs, Self Employment Percentage of Tourism-Related Self-Employment
Recreation and Entertainment Sector 1,386 39.9%
Food and Beverage Sector 1,039 29.9%
Accommodation Sector 559 16.1%
Transportation Sector 435 12.5%
Travel Services Sector 58 1.7%
Total 3,478 100.0%

Source: EMSI Analyst, 2019.3 dataset, self-employed



Combining data for employed and self-employment jobs show that Niagara housed 39,316 tourism-related jobs in the 2019 calendar year. These tourism-related jobs represent approximately 17.9% of all jobs in Niagara.

Tourism Sectors - Niagara region 2019 Jobs (employee + self-employed) Percentage of Combined Tourism-Related Jobs
Food and Beverage Sector 18,450 46.9%
Recreation and Entertainment Sector 8,804 22.4%
Accommodations Sector 8,594 21.9%
Transportation Sector 3,008 7.7%
Travel Services Sector 460 1.2%
Total 39,316 100.0%

Source: EMSI Analyst, 2019.3 dataset, employee and self-employed



These data represent a maximum potential for job impact within the tourism industry. While it does not follow that all people working in these jobs will be laid off or see employment disruption due to COVID-19, emerging trends identified through regional survey work as well as nationally focused forecasts suggest a large segment of tourism jobs are at risk.


NWPB will be able to offer additional insight on the tourism sector with the next update to Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey. These data will be released on May 8, 2020. At that time, NWPB will release an updated briefing note to comment on any notable changes in local employment levels.


What to do in Uncertain Times


The coming months are likely to prove challenging for all Niagara residents. Individuals experiencing employment disruptions can access resources and support from Niagara’s Employment Ontario service providers. Contact information for a service provider near you can be found through this link.

For all other inquiries please contact Vivian Kinnaird.


[1]: These data are derived from the Niagara COVID-19 Business Impact Survey, which was delivered by the Niagara Economic Rapid Response Team. NWPB gratefully acknowledges the efforts of Niagara’s twelve municipalities and the Regional Municipality of Niagara in delivering this survey.

[2]: Job count data from 2019 are estimates based on partial year data.



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