Every once in a while I find myself at a conference or in a social setting where I haven’t got a clue what people are saying. Notwithstanding my hearing challenges, sometimes it’s because my colleagues or friends are speaking a language other than English or German. However, often I remain silent because the subject matter is well beyond my wheelhouse.
While I typically find the conversations or presentations interesting, I can’t speak with confidence on topics such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the problems in the health care sector, or the Bank of Canada’s monetary policy…but I’m keen to listen and learn.
That innate desire to be better informed is why I’m always excited to hear from Jock Finlayson, Senior Policy Advisor with the Business Council of British Columbia who, as an economist, speaks in a language occasionally foreign to me, but delivers his insights in such a way that I leave better educated on the state of the global economy and what the year ahead might look like.
This morning at the Tourism Town Hall in Vancouver, presented by our national partners (Tourism Industry Association of Canada), Jock offered data and insights that every tourism business operator, DMO and sector should pay close attention to to plan for the months ahead. I took copious notes, some of which I offer to you absent of Jock’s expert commentary. As you peruse these points, consider how this information applies in the context of the visitor economy. In no particular order:
- China drives one-third of global growth. China and the United States represent 40% of the world’s $94 trillion economy as measured in GDP (Canada represents 2.1%);
- While the American economy remained resilient during the pandemic, real GDP is expected to fall below 1% for the next two years. At the same time, the US is unlikely to experience a recession;
- The global economy will see modest growth this year;
- Inflation remains the top economic issue in Canada. Whereas Canada averaged approximately 2% inflation for the better part of two decades, the rate shot up to 6.8% in 2022 although will likely decline this year;
- Businesses in Canada cite inflation and high interest rates as triggers for a recession;
- Canada has the fastest population growth in the G-7 with record levels of immigration;
- British Columbia experienced net population growth of 130,000 in 2022 although more BC residents left for other provinces than did people from the rest of Canada settle here;
- The bulk of job vacancies in Canada are for entry-level positions;
- For the tourism sector specifically, there will continue to be challenges in the days ahead given rising geopolitical tensions, fuel prices, the impact of inflation, slower global growth, and access constraints in the airline industry; and
- On the positive side, the United States (BC’s biggest international visitor market) is in reasonably good financial shape, the low Canadian dollar will attract more foreign visitors and keep more Canadians at home, and Chinese travellers are finally on the move.
Even though the language most economists speak sometimes sounds foreign to me, Jock’s presentation was extremely helpful to all Tourism Town Hall attendees this morning, especially for those of us who aren’t fully conversant in macro-economics.
If you missed today’s event, I highly recommend that you take the time to view Jock’s presentation once it’s uploaded to TIAC’s website next week.