Industry Information

What is the tourism sector?

In Canada, tourism is referred to as a “sector” and is divided into five different groups, called “industry groups”. These are Accommodation, Food and Beverage Services, Recreation and Entertainment, Transportation, and Travel Services.

There are tourism jobs in every province and territory in Canada, and in every tourism industry group.

Employers in the tourism sector come in all sizes: very small, small, mid-sized, and large. A very small business has between one and four employees, while a small business has between five and 20. A mid-sized business has between 20 and 99 employees, while a large business has more than 100.

Most employers in the tourism sector are small businesses (79%). The remaining employers (close to 19%) are mid-sized; this is a larger proportion compared to Canadian businesses overall.

Industry Groups

Each industry group has many types of jobs and employers. To discover the tourism industry group that’s best for you, try this interactive tourism quiz.

Almost half of the employees in the tourism sector work in Food and Beverages Services. Below is a breakdown of the percentage of tourism workers employed in each industry group.

Industry Groups Pie Chart


Employers in this group include hotels, motels, resorts, campgrounds, and recreational vehicle facilities. They range in size from bed and breakfast operations with one or two bedrooms to multi-national hotel chains with hundreds of rooms. The Accommodation industry group has a greater proportion of large businesses, such as hotels, motels and resorts.

Learn more about opportunities in the Accommodation industry.

Food and Beverage Services

This is the largest employment group. It includes restaurants, dining rooms, cafeterias, fast food outlets, hotels, private clubs, resorts, lounges, bars and nightclubs, convention centres, and cruise ships. They range in size from small private restaurants preparing individual meals up to large corporate facilities that prepare banquets for hundreds of people. In 2006, 76% of employers in the Food and Beverage Services industry group were small businesses.

Learn more about opportunities in the Food and Beverage Services industry.

Recreation and Entertainment

This is the second largest group and is very diverse. Employers can be zoos, museums, theatres, sports facilities, amusement parks, government parks, heritage sites, hunting, fishing or outdoor adventure outfitters, and casinos. Recreation and entertainment can also overlap with other sectors of tourism, and recreation and entertainment workers may be employed by hotels, resorts, tour companies, convention centres, or transportation companies.

The majority of employers in the Recreation and Entertainment industry group are small businesses; in the last few years, very small businesses have decreased while mid-sized and large businesses have increased.

Learn more about opportunities in the Recreation and Entertainment industry.


Employers in this group include companies that provide transport by air, land or water, and include airlines, bus companies, taxi companies, ferry services, and cruise ships. Employers could be a small airline with only two airplanes, or could be the size of a large bus company with thousands of vehicles operating across the country.

In the Transportation group, 84% of employers are small businesses, compared to just 4% of large businesses, such as major airlines, rail transportation, and car rental companies.

Learn more about opportunities in the Transportation industry.

Travel Services

Employers in this group include retail travel agencies, wholesale tour companies and corporate offices that have enough business travel to warrant their own booking divisions. Agencies might be small family operations with one office or large international networks with offices across the country.

An average of 92% of employers in Travel Services are small businesses.

Learn more about opportunities in the Travel Services industry. 

Growing Job Opportunities

Overall, there will be more than 300,000 new tourism jobs created across the country by 2015, with the most growth expected in the Food and Beverage Services and Recreation and Entertainment industry groups. The chart below shows which the number of new jobs projected for each industry.

Job Projections for 2015 Pie Chart

As you can see, there is a bright future in tourism in Canada – and for you!

For more information about employment trends in the tourism sector in Canada, visit the Tourism HR Canada Labour Market Information research section.