Pent-up leisure demand from domestic travellers has pushed Canada to a record high for REVPar (revenue per available room), ADR (Average Daily Rate) and occupancy in 2023. Even with inflation, high interest rates and the increased cost of living, travel is more important than ever among Canadians, with 48% cutting grocery expenses to be able to afford travel and 38% planning to increase their travel budget.

Foodbuy spoke with Susie Grynol, President and CEO, Hotel Association of Canada (HAC). “Looking forward to 2024, we expect strong domestic leisure travel trends to continue, sustaining rate and occupancy growth. But with only 80% of the pre-pandemic international visitors traveling to Canada, investments in Canada’s infrastructure and destination marketing are needed to retain and grow our tourism market share.” states Grynol.

Headshot of Susie Grynol, President and CEO, Hotel Association of Canada

Susie Grynol, President and CEO, Hotel Association of Canada

Sustainable travel is the industry’s fastest growing trend, with 70% of travelers actively seeking sustainable travel options and 42% willing to spend more for it. Grynol indicated that, “HAC is leading efforts to help hotels through its Green Key Global certification program which provides properties with the third-party credibility that they need to market their green commitments. Last month we were pleased to announce a new partnership with the American Hotel and Lodging Association to formally expand this program into the United States.”

As for HAC’s key advocacy issues, housing is a national priority right now and one that also impacts the hotel industry. Over 62% of HAC members identify access to affordable housing as a barrier to attracting and retaining employees. Grynol pointed to recent successes, “We led lobbying efforts in the fall, which resulted in the Federal Government’s commitment to rein in short-term rentals with a fund to limit commercial short-term rental operators in key markets. This will result in tens of thousands of units being returned to the long-term rental market for hotel employees and will also assist with occupancy for hotels.”

More hoteliers are also considering developing mixed-use hotels that include both hotel and housing units, during this time when housing stock is critically needed. HAC has been advocating to provide these hoteliers with access to the GST rental construction rebate and CMHC mortgage insurance to support the construction of more of these mixed-use builds.

Last year HAC’s advocacy efforts opened up 110,000 new international positions for the sector through various immigration channels. Grynol outlined continued staffing challenges, “Workforce continues to be a key concern, as we continue to experience a significant workforce shortage projected for this summer and fall. Despite innovative hiring practices, increased wages and more flexibility, hotels continue to struggle to service the exponential demand for travel.” HAC is looking at ways to mobilize new Canadians into hotel sector careers and we hope to share more on this initiative in the near future.

On the supply side, Canadian hotel development and growth continues to lag behind key international tourism competitors, such as the US. The lag in development is further hampered by the increased cost of construction and high interest rates. Investments in Canada’s infrastructure and destination marketing are needed to retain and grow our tourism market share.

Meet Foodbuy, your leading hotel procurement solutions provider at the Hotel Association of Canada’s Annual Conference this year (May 22-24, 2024, Montreal, Quebec, Canada). We look forward to seeing you there!

This is an excerpt from the Foodbuy 2024 Hotel Guide. To read the guide, click here.

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