The agency that represents a number of the province’s businesses who rely on tourism says Ontarians will spend less than half of what they normally spend on new year’s celebrations as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.
A recent survey from the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) is predicting about $2 billion less in revenues for the holiday.
“In normal times many people travel within the province, attend community events or go to bars and restaurants to ring in the New Year – this year most of that revenue for tourism, hospitality and restaurant businesses will be lost,” said Beth Potter, president and CEO of the TIAO.
The survey, conducted during the second week of December before the announcement of a provincial lockdown, suggests 70 per cent of Ontarians didn’t bother to make plans due to the potential spread of COVID-19.
It’s expected that half of the province will remain at home and simply watch TV on New Year’s Eve.
The recent survey polled over 1,000 Ontario residents over the age of 18.
In recent years, the TIAO says about $350 is spent by the average Ontarian on New Year’s Eve. The survey says that should be about an average of $170 this year.
“As we come to the end of a long and difficult year for our industry, these latest numbers underscore the imperative of supporting local businesses,” said Potter.
Ontario’s tourism industry welcomed an estimated 141 million visitors in 2019 and generated over $36 billion in pre-COVID-19 revenue. Five billion of that was tax revenue, according to the TIAO.
Potter says the agency represents close to 200,000 Ontario businesses and 400,000 employees. Twenty-three percent of that workforce are Ontario youth between the ages of 15 and 24-years-old.
“Tourism and hospitality is not only the number one employer in that age group but we also employ a large majority of women and new Canadians,” Potter said.
“We have an awful lot of displaced workers right now and we are doing our best to support them through something called the tourism-hospitality emergency response.”
Potter says the industry is likely to continue to struggle in 2021 as tourism from abroad will slowly resume over the next year due to continued fear of the virus.
She says locals will have to contribute to a recovery and suggests it can begin with a contribution on Thursday night.
“Order in a great meal from a local restaurant and pair it with some great Ontario beverage of your choice.”
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