Tourism spending in Canada down for third straight year


OTTAWA - A rebound in fourth quarter spending by tourists in Canada was not enough to lift the sector, as overall spending dropped in 2003 for a third straight year, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday.

The war in Iraq, the outbreak of SARS, the power outage in Ontario and forest fires in the interior of British Columbia all combined to shake tourism throughout the year.

"International visitors stayed away, and their spending in Canada fell 12 percent," Statistics Canada said. "A 1.9 percent increase in domestic tourism spending, as well as a return of international visitors during the second-half of the year were among the few encouraging signs."

The drop translated into a big drop in jobs in the sector, as tourism employment fell 1.2 per cent in 2003. Much of the loss occurred in the second quarter, when the Iraq war and the SARS outbreak occurred, although most of these jobs reappeared in the second half of the year.

The accommodation industry was one of the hardest hit in the year, recording a 3.3 percent decline in jobs, Statistics Canada said.

The final three months of 2003 was brighter, as tourism spending advanced 3.2 percent. Spending got a boost from a 9 percent increase in the number of international visitors to the country in the final quarter of the year. (*CBC News Online)






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