Tourism group urges Ontario residents to shop local if planning to celebrate new year at home

Ontario residents will likely spend much less on New Year’s Eve this year than last because of the pandemic, a new survey has found, and an organization that speaks for tourism in the province is urging residents to shop local if they do celebrate.

The Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO), a business advocacy organization, says an online survey it commissioned in December of more than 1,000 people found that Ontario residents typically spend an average of $366 on New Year’s Eve. This year, they plan to spend an average of $170.

The drop in spending could translate to nearly $2 billion in lost New Year’s Eve revenue in the province, the association estimates. The survey of 1,091 respondents, aged 18 and over, was conducted online by a data service firm for the association from Dec. 11 to 16.

Beth Potter, TIAO’s president and CEO, said the association is calling on Ontario residents to support the tourism industry on New Year’s Eve by taking advantage of takeout and delivery or curbside pickup from their favourite local businesses this year.

“We are encouraging people to stay home but to support local businesses,” Potter told CBC Toronto on Wednesday.

“The tourism industry has been hit incredibly hard over the last almost 10 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and we’ve seen a huge decline in the amount of revenue that tourism businesses have been able to earn,” she added.

“We want people to stay home because we want to get this lockdown behind us so we can get our businesses back up and open at capacity, but we still need to support our local businesses so that they’ll be there when the lockdown is over. And this is the best way that we can do that right now.”

The entire province is currently in lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19. Ontario and Toronto officials, however, have said if people want to ring in the new year, they should do so at home with members of their households only.

Before the pandemic, many people would celebrate on New Year’s Eve by travelling within the province, attending community events and going to bars and restaurants, but that will not happen this year. Pandemic restrictions are in place for all of Ontario. (CBC News)

The survey found that 70 per cent of Ontarians have not even made plans to celebrate New Year’s Eve at home with their households. A full 51 per cent of respondents said they plan simply to watch TV with family member and forego celebrations altogether.

Lockdown means tourism revenue to be lost

Before the pandemic, Potter said, many people would celebrate on New Year’s Eve by travelling within the province, attending community events and going to bars and restaurants, but that will not happen this year. Pandemic restrictions are in place for all of Ontario. 

And the lockdown means nearly all of that revenue for tourism, hospitality and restaurant businesses will be lost, she said.

According to the survey, 81 per cent of respondents ranked tourism, hospitality and restaurants as the businesses most affected by the pandemic among a list of nine industries.

“While many industries have been able to pivot and mitigate some of the financial losses related to COVID-19, most businesses in our industry are unable to do so because of their reliance on the ability for people to move freely and gather in person,” Potter said.

The near-$2 billion in lost New Year Eve’s spending is based on the decline in spending as reported by respondents, multiplied by the number of people in Ontario aged 20 to 69, a figure based on Statistic Canada’s most recent numbers.

The TIAO online survey was conducted by Maru/Blue from Dec. 11 to 16 among a total of 1091 adult residents of Ontario, 18 years of age and older. A probabilistic sample of the same size (n=1,091) would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.9%, 19 times out of 20. 

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