The tourism industry took a significant hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, and here in Kingston the tourism sector is important for the local economy.
According to a release from Tourism Kingston, locally, tourism was a $533 million industry in 2019, and saw an estimated 50.9 per cent decrease in 2020, and 38.6 per cent in 2021. The city is moving forward, and while a busy summer season is expected, the organization said that a full recovery is expected to take years.
This week, May 30 to June 4, is Tourism Awareness Week, and the theme for 2022 is Travel Now: For Work, Life and Play! As a tourism-dependent city, Kingston sees more domestic tourism, relative to population, that any other metropolitan area in Canada. And Tourism Kingston said it’s not just about weekend getaways — the sector is driven by a range of experiences, from visiting friends and family, to motor coach tours, business meetings and sporting events – and tourism in Kingston happens year-round.
Kingston also has one of the largest hospitality and accommodation workforces in Canada, providing almost 9 per cent of Kingston’s jobs or 15,000 tourism-related jobs, Tourism Kingston relayed. According to the release, the RTO 9 region overall is home to 7,000 tourism businesses.
“Tourism is a key economic sector in Kingston,” said Mayor Bryan Paterson, who is also a professor of economics at RMC. “It employs almost nine per cent of our local workforce and supports many small businesses and cultural organizations in our city, from inns and restaurants to galleries and museums. Tourism is also a critical sector in our community’s pandemic recovery, as sport tournaments, group tours, and in-person events return to the city.”
Tourism Kingston is the city’s destination marketing and management organization, responsible for raising awareness and profile of the city, encouraging tourism through group travel, event hosting, experience development, and film and TV production, and providing visitor services through the Visitor Information Centre, according to the release. Tourism Kingston’s marketing of the city as a visitor destination is funded by the Municipal Accommodation Tax, a 4 per cent tax on hotel stays of fewer than 30 days.
“Combined, the leisure and business tourism sectors generate $533 million annually to the local economy, through direct spending, employment, and investment in Kingston,” said Megan Knott, Executive Director of Tourism Kingston. “Tourism will also be pivotal in our pandemic recovery as a community. While people are more inclined to travel for business or pleasure than they were a year or two ago, Kingston is still primarily a summer destination for leisure travellers. Business, sport, and film tourism can bring groups, tours, tournaments, and productions to Kingston year-round. This is tremendously important for local businesses and cultural organizations, enabling them to keep their doors open and offer stable employment for staff throughout the year.”
As we move into the height of the summer season, stay tuned for all kinds of events, live music, festivals, and promotions — while these things certainly attract tourism to the Limestone City, those of us who call Kingston home reap the benefits of being a tourism hub without leaving the city!