CATO releases its second tour operator economic impact report

The Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO) has released its second study of the economic impact of Canadian tour operators for 2023.

CATO commissioned consulting firm BDO to carry out a second study of the economic impact of Canadian tour operators for 2023. The association had completed a first analysis was completed in 2021, which assessed the situation following the disaster caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As opposed to 2021 which included members from ATOQ-Association des tours opérateurs du Québec, the 2023 report, only contains results from CATO members as the response rate from ATOQ was deemed not statistically significant by BDO.

Between 2020 and 2021, employment and labour costs directly supported by tour operators who responded to the survey decreased significantly and these tour operators experienced a 94.6 per cent decrease of economic output.

Revenues up

Not surprisingly, the assessment found an increase in employment, labour income and economic output from 2021 to 2023 from survey respondents.

The total economic output was at $5.4 billion in 2020, down to $291M in 2021, and back up to $8.5 billion in 2023, an increase of 57 per cent rom 2020.

Commenting on the findings, CATO chair, Brett Walker said: “Congratulations to all CATO members for their hard work in the recovery following the economic disaster caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021.”

Walker continued: “The cumulative sales as reported by CATO members in 2023 was $9.8 billion, compared to $15.9 billion as reported by USTOA members in their 2022 year-end economic impact analysis. That’s impressive.”

And CATO’s chair added: “While there may not be any true comparison between the two analysis, one thing is for sure, with a market population of 1/10th the US, CATO members are generating many multiples more than 1/10th the revenue of our U.S. counterparts.”

Key highlights

Some of the highlights of the 2023 Economic Impact Analysis (EIA) include:

  • The outputs estimated by the model are direct and indirect impacts on employment, labour income, and social and economic contributions.
  • As the travel restrictions were lifted, the increased demand for travel enabled CATO members, who responded to the survey, to increase total full-time equivalent staff positions by 37% from 2020.
  • Direct Full-time Employment in 2020 was 2,571, and now at 3,702 in 2023.
  • Of the 3,702 direct full-time positions reported in 2023, 72% or 2,675 were held by women, an increase of 46.8% from 2020.
  • Total Employment, direct and indirect, was at 13,344 in 2020, down to 3,197 in 2021, and up to 21,824 in 2023, resulting in a 64% increase from 2020.
  • Direct Labour Income increased by 38% to $222.9M in 2023, from $161.5M in 2020.
  • Total Direct and Indirect Labour Income was at $864M in 2020, down to $145M in 2021, and up to $1.33 billion in 2023, an increase of 53% from 2020.
  • Total sales revenue of $9.8 billion reported in 2023.

These numbers reflect the positive changes that have taken place amongst CATO members and the market more generally in last few years.

Further to these economic impacts, CATO members are committed to improving their social and climate impacts.

To this end, CATO members have formed a standing sustainability committee and partnered with USTOA on joint sustainability initiatives as well as through Tourism Cares.

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