Cover Story Features

Not Just a Great Place to Be From Anymore

Photo provided by Tourism Saskatchewan

With no sign of slowing down, tourism is becoming a larger and more influential industrial force around the world. There are more than seven billion people living on this planet, and every year one billion of them undertake international travel. This speaks to the ever-improving innovations in transportation and moreover, the interconnectedness of the world. The world is becoming ‘smaller’, trade is constantly expanding, consumerism is growing and at the core, we have never-ending technological advancements. In 1950, by contrast, there were a mere 25 million people travelling internationally.

Statistics from 2011 indicate $1 trillion (USD) is being spent annually with the global tourism industry.1 Global economic growth at this time was 3.5%, while global tourism growth was 4.4%.2 As this trend continues, it is projected that the global tourism industry will grow 60% by the year 2020.3

Developing countries such as China are largely responsible for these continued growth trends in the industry. Chinese international tourism has increased considerably as the country has become richer and its middle classes have grown. In 2000, only 10 million Chinese travelled internationally. This number is projected to be 100 million by the year 2020.4 The United Kingdom calculates that every 747 with Chinese tourists represents £1 million for the UK economy and 20 full time jobs.5 Noting these trends and analyzing impacts will be crucial for regions that want to maximize their ability to attract tourism and the economic windfall it brings.

In Canada, the numbers are equally impressive. During 2016, Statistics Canada reported 30.1 million tourists visited—a 10% increase from 2015.6 One factor influencing this increase was the lower Canadian dollar. Sitting below $0.80 USD during most of the year, the prospect of inexpensive travel saw increases from both overseas travellers (+13.6%) and American travellers (+8.3%).7

The economic impact of tourism is considerable. Tourism in Canada generates $90 billion annually, supporting 640,000 jobs directly and over one million indirectly. In 2015, $24.7 billion in government revenue was directly attributable to tourism.9

There is an important lesson in these numbers. People will always travel abroad certainly. However, the more effective Canada becomes at promoting itself to Canadians as a tourism destination, the better off Canada will be economically. Instead of taking a trip to Las Vegas or Mexico, why not travel and experience a new corner of your own country or province. Not only will you be experiencing wonders that you didn’t even know were in your own backyard, but you’ll be creating economic spin-offs for your own country.

The impact of domestic travel and tourism becomes especially apparent when tied to benefits for friends, family, neighbours and colleagues. In Saskatchewan, there are 65,000 full and part-time jobs that are tied to the tourism industry.10 2016 highlights from national tourism indicators reported large gains for export revenues in food and beverage services (+13.4%), transport services [+10.5%, including passenger air transport (+13.3%), passenger rail transport (+13.5%) vehicle rental (+9.8%)], travel services (+13.2%) and accommodations (+12.3%).11 How many people do you know that work in one of these industries?

It is important to remember that tourism is not just about the dollars and cents. It is about promoting the place you are from. The better it’s done, the more attention is created. More attention means more tourism, and more tourism means more economic benefits. In fact, it can mean the difference between a community existing and thriving or simply disappearing. People want to go to welcoming communities where there are things to do and places to see.

Saskatchewan has become a place that is attractive to not only live and work but to visit. There is something unique about Saskatchewan. The numbers speak for themselves. Last year there were 12.2 million visitors to the province to enjoy one of the 3,200 attractions, events and tourism-related businesses in the province. Tourism contributed a whopping $2.15 billion dollars to the provincial economy.11

“Tourism is like the miracle economic sector as we see people come to all regions of the province, spend money in many different sectors and in all four seasons. It hires people young and old and best of all instils a sense of hospitality in those people that follows them throughout their careers,” says Steve McLellan, CEO, Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce. “Also, tourists are often strangers and when they come and experience the province they are much more likely to want to live, work and invest here. That’s great for them and for all of us who know the attraction Saskatchewan can offer.”

Speaking to the impact of the industry on Saskatoon, Todd Brandt, CEO, Tourism Saskatoon says, “Saskatoon’s tourism industry brings in over $540 million dollars to Saskatoon’s economy each year, and employs just over 15,000 people. Careers in the industry range from first employment opportunities for new Canadians and students, to senior professionals in many different fields.”

Our tourism and hospitality industry is well-positioned to offer many opportunities for sectors that may not have seen tourists as a market. Saskatchewan businesses should take advantage of our growing tourism industry. There are many ways to bolster that bottom line. It’s a farm that starts up a bed and breakfast or hosts its own “farm to fork” dining experience for food tourists. It’s a local retailer or restaurant that advertises outside the province because they offer something unique. It’s a local event reaching outside its community to attract new attendees. The possibilities are endless. Insight and creativity can lead to entrepreneurs reaching new customers that arrive by car and plane to see what Saskatchewan is all about. Don’t miss the chance at a slice of the tourism pie.


1,2The Tourism Alliance,

3,4The Tourism Alliance,

5Destination Canada,

6,7Destination Canada,

8Statistics Canada,

9Tourism Saskatchewan

10Destination Canada,

11Tourism Saskatchewan