Survey of Alberta’s tourism industry pinpoints greatest recovery challenges

A new survey is shedding light into the key issues facing Alberta’s tourism industry as those involved attempt to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey, released on Monday, was conducted by Leger and commissioned by the Tourism Industry Association of Alberta in partnership with Travel Alberta.

“Arguably no industry has been more severely impacted than the travel and tourism industry,” the survey said.

It found the top-ranked concerns of Alberta’s tourism industry are recruitment challenges, inflation, public health guidelines and visitor numbers.

“The current situation facing the tourism sector is the worst that the industry has ever seen. It is more dire than the impact experienced after 9/11, SARS and the 2008 economic crisis combined, with recovery forecasted to take at least two to four years to return to pre-pandemic levels,” said the survey.

The survey suggests the food and beverage sector has been the hardest-hit, with a shortage of qualified recruits, the reluctance of former employees to return to the sector and the impact of government subsidies being brought up by respondents.

The Tourism Industry Association of Alberta says the first-of-its-kind survey will be cond­ucted semi-annually to help decision-makers gauge how the visitor economy is faring following two years of closures, restrictions and financial losses.

“This survey gives us a baseline, or even benchmark, for how our industry emerges from the hard beating that was COVID-19 and for how we recover and get ready to welcome Canadian and overseas visitors this summer,” said Darren Reeder with the Tourism Industry Association of Alberta.

The survey shows that around half of businesses have taken on COVID-related debt. While most say they believe they will be able to pay off their debt, about one-in-five were unsure about how they will service theirs.

Other concerns brought forward in the survey were supply chain issues and insurance premiums.

The poll from Leger surveyed 187 tourism operators online between Jan. 12 and Feb. 15.

The complete results of the survey can be viewed online here.

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