Few visitors are seen from the Canadian side in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, on March 2, 2021.(Photo: Xinhua)
Canada’s tourism economy suffered unprecedented losses in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is by far the most threatened sector in the country’s economy, according to Destination Canada on Monday.
From April to November 2020, revenues from air transportation for passengers fell 91 percent and accommodation revenues plummeted by 71 percent. Small and medium-sized businesses make up 99 percent of enterprises in the tourism sector.
During last summer, the highest weekly average occupancy rate for hotels in Canada only reached 42.9 percent. Passengers on major Canadian airlines for the month of June reached 440,000, which was 6.7 million fewer passengers than the same month a year prior.
Alongside rapid declines in tourism, the COVID-19 pandemic brought business events, entertainment and festivals to a halt; the combined impact resulted in massive losses to hotel revenues, with data showing that major cities have been hardest hit. Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver downtown hotels recorded the lowest occupancies of any region in Canada, with revenues falling an estimated 79 percent in the last year, a loss of 2.3 billion Canadian dollars (about 1.8 billion U.S. dollars) across the three cities.
Despite initial signs of recovery, the country’s tourism businesses continued facing significant financial stress resulting in business closures, some permanently, throughout the year. This resulted in a decline of 9 percent in active businesses from January to November 2020 — the greatest decline of all business sectors.
Destination Canada called the current situation facing the tourism sector the worst ever, direr than the impact experienced after 9/11, SARS and the 2008 economic crisis combined.
The tourism economy helps sustain 150,000 jobs in the country. One in every 10 Canadian jobs is tied to tourism.
The jobless rate in the tourism sector remained the highest out of any sector, 6.6 percent above the national rate at the end of 2020. The loss of core staff will hinder businesses’ ability to scale up efficiently, thus further impacting recovery.
The tourism economy isn’t just a key pillar of the Canadian economy, it’s critical to Canadian collective quality of life, said Marsha Walden, president and chief executive officer of Destination Canada.
Destination Canada said it faces an estimated 19 billion Canadian dollars shortfall that could be made up if Canadians shifted two-thirds of their planned spending on international leisure travel to travel at home.
Alberta government says jobs, economy, COVID to be focus of fall legislature sitting – CBC.ca
The Alberta government plans a busy fall legislature sitting aimed at adding jobs and diversifying the economy while focusing on tamping down the renewed surge of COVID-19.
Government house leader Jason Nixon says this will include proposed legislation on recognizing professional credentials to address labour shortages. The bill will be introduced by Premier Jason Kenney.
“Our focus will be on Alberta’s workforce, a couple of bills around diversifying the economy, a big focus on building infrastructure for our future, [and] growing our resources, particularly on the energy side,” Nixon said in an interview Friday.
There will also be new initiatives on environmental protection and conservation.
Nixon said there will be 18 to 20 bills for the sitting, which begins Monday and is scheduled to run to the first week of December.
“It’s a very robust fall agenda,” he said.
Nixon said the government will continue to take steps to reduce COVID-19 cases, which have severely stressed the health system.
No COVID-19-specific bills are planned, he said, noting they were passed in previous sittings.
“There’s certainly other stuff to be done to manage the pandemic but we’ll stand ready if Alberta Health needs us to pass any legislation to deal with the pandemic.”
He said debate in the chamber is expected to return to some semblance of normalcy.
In the spring sitting, both the United Conservative government and the Opposition NDP reduced their numbers in the chamber to prevent the spread of the virus.
This time, with all NDP members and all but one on the UCP side vaccinated, all will be allowed back in for debate.
The lone UCP member has a medical exemption and will be tested regularly, said Nixon.
He said there are still masking rules and members will try to maintain distancing where possible.
The NDP said it plans to hold the government accountable for what went disastrously wrong on COVID-19.
“This fall sitting of the legislature will be laser-focused on getting answers from the UCP on why they’ve failed Albertans so miserably in managing the devastating fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Christina Gray, the NDP house leader.
“Since July 15, more than 85,000 additional Albertans have been infected with the virus and 700 have died.”
Gray said the NDP will call for an all-party inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic with the power to compel documents and testimony.
Nixon said the government will not agree to such a motion. He said it would be wrong to redeploy vital health resources right now and that Kenney has promised an eventual review of how the province handled the pandemic.
Kenney has also promised to bring forward a motion to ratify and act on the results of Monday’s provincewide referendum on Canada’s equalization program.
Final results aren’t in from Edmonton, but figures from Calgary and other cities suggest the referendum will pass with about 60 per cent in support of urging the federal government to remove the principle of equalization from the Constitution.
Kenney has said the issue is not about removing equalization, something no province can do unilaterally, but about getting leverage to negotiate other issues surrounding federal transfers to attain a better deal with Ottawa.
Political scientist Jared Wesley said Kenney will likely continue to focus on initiatives such as the equalization referendum, if only to change the narrative on his low popularity ratings.
“The premier will be spending most of his time, if he has anything to say about it, outside the province, stumping for this fair deal,” said Wesley, with the University of Alberta.
Charting the Global Economy: Weekly Global Economy Check – Bloomberg
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China’s economy continues to cool as the nation’s housing slump intensifies, while supply-chain bottlenecks are keeping a tight grip on the recoveries in the U.S. and Europe.
Brazil's Economy Chief to Stay in Job to Avoid Further Crisis – BNN
(Bloomberg) — Brazil Economy Minister Paulo Guedes has decided to stay in the job even after losing four key members of this team over disagreements about the government’s spending plans, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Guedes held a meeting with the remainder of his team late on Thursday after the mass resignations amid President Jair Bolsonaro’s move to break the country’s spending ceiling rule to fund a new social program ahead of the 2022 elections. The minister said he would stay because he believes his departure would further deteriorate the situation, the person said, asking not to be identified to discuss internal government matters.
Read More: Bolsonaro Loses Top Economic Aides After Unveiling Spending Plan
Brazilian markets plunged on Thursday after Bolsonaro’s spending plan was unveiled. The currency sank 1.1% to its weakest level against the dollar since April and the stock market plunged 2.8%, extending its losses to more than 6% this week.
Resignations in Guedes’s team were announced after markets closed.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
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