Waiters, bartenders, and workers in the tourism industry are once again feeling the impact of the pandemic-related closures on New Year’s Eve, as more Ontarians plan to welcome 2021 at home.
An online survey of 1,091 adults revealed that Ontarians spend an average of $366 on New Year Eve in a typical year. But on the last day of the tumultuous 2020 year, residents in the province plan to spend an average of $170.
The Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO), a business advocacy organization which commissioned the survey, urged Ontarians to support the tourism and hospitality industry by shopping local, despite provincial lockdown measures.
“The tourism industry has been hit incredibly hard over the last almost 10 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and we’ve seen a huge decline in the amount of revenue that tourism businesses have been able to earn,” Beth Potter, TIAO’s president and CEO, told CBC.
“We want people to stay home because we want to get this lockdown behind us so we can get our businesses back up and open at capacity, but we still need to support our local businesses so that they’ll be there when the lockdown is over. And this is the best way that we can do that right now,” she said.
The TIAO represents 188,000 businesses and 391,000 workers in the tourism industry. According to data from the TIAO and the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario, the tourism industry revenue represented 4.3 percent of provincial GDP in 2015, and 4.9 percent in 2019. Tourism generated a total of $43.7 billion in 2019.
Ontario is currently under a provincial-wide lockdown that began on Dec. 26 and will last until Jan. 6, 2021. Potter said people used to travel within the province to the celebrate the coming of a new year, while others attended community events or celebrated at bars and restaurants.
But this year, the TIAO survey found that 70 percent of Ontarians did not even have plans for celebrating at home. Over 50 percent of respondents said they were simply going to watch TV with family members on New Year Eve.
Reduced spending in food and drinks and traveling on New Year Eve translates to a roughly $2 billion loss in revenue for businesses. The figure is based on the expense the respondents reported, multiplied by the number of people aged 20 to 69 in Ontario.
Potter ask Ontarians to make use of takeout and delivery to get food and drinks from their favourite businesses.
“We are encouraging people to stay home but to support local businesses,” Potter said. The TIAO also encouraged people to travel around the province more once the lockdown is over and things return to normal.
The TIAO online survey was conducted by Maru/Blue from Dec. 11 to Dec. 16. The margin of error is at 2.9 percent, with an accuracy of 19 times out of 20.