Canadian Travel Press
Issue Date: Jun 15, 2020
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Practical applications for success

A conversation with Philip Mondor, President and CEO, Tourism HR Canada


This week, CTP offers the first part of a two-part conversation with Tourism HR Canada’s president and CEO, Philip Mondor. In a world dramatically changed by COVID-19, Mondor talks about tourism’s ability to recover from the pandemic being dependent on its ability to attract and retain qualified workers.

Maybe you could start by talking to CTP’s readers about what Tourism HR Canada does and the kind of resources it offers to businesses in travel and tourism in Canada


Tourism HR Canada was established in 1993 as a national organization working for the tourism sector in Canada. Its main goals include improving the quality and mobility of the tourism workforce to support a globally competitive and sustainable industry and foster the development of a dynamic and resilient workforce.

Tourism HR Canada brings together business, organized labour, education, governments and interest groups focused on common goals, such as research and workforce development. Some of Tourism HR Canada’s activities include:

Conducting leading comprehensive labour market research and analysis to help forecast future skills, foster growth and innovation, and inform policies and programs.

Helping position tourism as a destination for employment by promoting and enabling multiple career paths and entrepreneurial pursuits, supporting good HR practices and increasing tourism’s value proposition.

Operating Canada’s largest credentialing system next to skilled trades, with 28 industry-sanctioned professional certification designations (including Certified Travel Counsellor).

Working with the education and training sector to test new approaches to skills development and improve the supply and attachment of new graduates to tourism jobs.

Providing accessible, current, practical skills training online and in workplaces—all developed by industry for industry, with extensive input from employers across Canada.

Tourism’s ability to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and grow and compete is dependent on its ability to attract and retain qualified workers.

The majority of CTP’s readers either package or sell destinations outside of Canada. Right now, with non-essential travel restricted, many of those travel agents are looking for new opportunities and for many, selling Canada is being looked at as an option. So, the question is, of the resources that you have available, do you see any that would be a fit for the travel agency distribution network in Canada?

Tourism HR Canada has invested in several resources aimed at precisely this need. Most notably, the new Workforce Recovery Toolkit, to be launched this month, contains the most current information and tools to help travel agents (and other tourism operators) rebound from the pandemic. This free online resource will help them define new markets, develop new products and services, stabilize finances, seek expert advice and much more.

Tourism HR Canada’s comprehensive programs under its Emerit brand include several other resources. A vast array of training and professional certification programs ensure industry professionals have several options for professional growth and to innovate practices.

There are programs for travel agents and affiliated fields of practice, which can help individuals identify the skills that are transferable to new opportunities.

Obviously as the industry begins to reopen, businesses will need to implement stringent health and safety measures for both their customers and employees. Does Tourism HR Canada have programs in place to help businesses implement this kind of program?

Tourism businesses are seeking practical, comprehensive, explicit, consistent guidelines to avoid consumer confusion, to increase confidence in the health and safety practices of the industry (for both workers and consumers), and to create a “level playing field” (conditions that are fair for everyone). Businesses are seeking clarity in understanding how to proceed, particularly with physical distancing requirements and maintaining the health and safety of workers and customers. Anxiety stems from not knowing the rules and the difficulty in finding guidance from government and public health officials (and the fact that the rules or requirements are routinely changing).

Several groups have done work on guidelines. Some focus on industry-wide strategies aimed at new markets and ways to help build consumer confidence. Other strategies have an operational focus to help businesses comply with distancing requirements, deal with potential COVID-19 outbreaks, or ways to reforming business models. There are also guidelines containing protocols staff are to follow to ensure increased sanitation and cleaning practices meet new health standards.

Although Tourism HR Canada has programming specific to cleaning practices, we have also been referring people to guidelines stemming from the COVID crisis. Recommended guidelines are ones that: have an industry focus with information specific to tourism operations, including information specific to the Canada context; are widely endorsed or recognized by industry; apply across Canada: they are consistent guidelines that apply to all types of operations and effectively set a Canadian standard of quality and assurance; are specific (not general), with information to help businesses know how to apply the guideline; are aligned with government regulations, policy initiatives or direction; link to practical tools and information to help implement the guidelines; and are updated regularly to reflect best practices.

As a follow-up, just like the domestic tourism business, many of the companies in the travel agency distribution network in Canada are small businesses. Are Tourism HR Canada’s programs tailored to small and medium sized businesses which could be challenged putting this kind of program in place?

The focus of all Tourism HR Canada’s programs has been to serve small and medium size businesses, which account for nearly 80% of all tourism businesses. Many of these businesses also operate in rural or remote regions of Canada, with great differences in regional or local needs or requirements.

The programs are intended to be practical and apply to this range of context, and in a format that enables people to build on their experiences and work at their own pace.

Next week: Philip Mondor talks about the kind of resources Tourism HR Canada offers to travel agents and tour operators and talks about the role that he sees them fulfilling in a world changed by COVID-19.