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TIAO and OTEC Commend the Inclusion of Hospitality as a Priority Program Area for Ontario’s Allocation of International Study Permit Applications

TORONTO, ON (April 10, 2024) – The Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) and the Ontario Tourism Education Corporation (OTEC) commend the Government of Ontario for supporting Ontario’s tourism and hospitality sectors in their recent announcement regarding allocations of international study permit applications.

In response to the two-year federal cap on international students, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities announced on March 27 that hospitality will be one of the priority program areas—representing sectors with high employment demand—for Ontario’s allocation of international study permit applications. The inclusion of hospitality was a key industry ask, which TIAO in partnership with OTEC raised with Colleges and Universities Minister Jill Dunlop immediately after the federal cap was announced.

Andrew Siegwart, President and CEO of TIAO said, “International enrolment in our province’s tourism and hospitality postsecondary programs has long outpaced domestic student enrolment, with these programs creating pathways to employment in rewarding and in-demand careers. International students and graduates are global assets to our workforce, ensuring that Ontario’s service economy can adeptly meet the needs of an increasingly global visitor market. We thank Minister Dunlop for her support of Ontario’s tourism and hospitality sectors, and we look forward to working toward further measures to support our postsecondary partners.”

Adam Morrison, President and CEO of OTEC said, “International students have always been a key part of Ontario’s talent attraction strategy. With a projected labour shortage of over 15,000 full time jobs over the next four years, we are pleased to see tourism and hospitality recognized and prioritized as an economic driver. We are also thankful to know that international students will continue to gain critical experience and skills in this industry.”

In January, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) introduced a two-year cap on the number of study permits issued to international students, with the cap expected to disproportionately affect Ontario and in-demand sectors like tourism and hospitality. A TIAO member survey conducted shortly after the announcement revealed industry concerns about the federal cap, with employers anticipating additional costs and challenges associated with recruitment and retention. Consultations with post-secondary institutions revealed anticipated impacts to tourism and hospitality programs, with subsequent impacts on food and beverage, accommodations, events, and other tourism and hospitality sectors that rely heavily on these programs to meet employment demand.

With the service industry facing a tighter labour market in the wake of the federal cap, TIAO and OTEC are renewing their call for TEER 4 and TEER 5 eligibility in the Canadian Experience Class of Express Entry and the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program, which would allow international graduates and other jobseekers to qualify for permanent residency while they are working in the entry level positions that are stepping stones to further career advancement.

Visit TIAO’s website to learn more about TIAO’s ongoing advocacy efforts on behalf of Ontario’s tourism industry.

Visit OTEC’s website to learn more about OTEC’s workforce development solutions for tourism and hospitality employers.


About the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO)

The Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) is recognized by the government and the industry as the voice of tourism. TIAO works on behalf of its membership, collectively representing the majority of tourism businesses and employees across the province, to take on pressing policy issues that impact the Ontario tourism industry. TIAO leads the way in government relations on behalf of the Ontario tourism industry, including tourism businesses and operators, destination marketing organizations, regional tourism organizations, and educators. We provide evidence-based policy recommendations to ensure the provincial government understands and addresses the multifaceted needs of the tourism industry.

TIAO propels the powerful and innovative Ontario tourism industry by connecting tourism leaders, innovators, government, and educators through events and conferences. We are proud to host the largest gathering of tourism leaders, educators, businesses, and government officials in Canada, at our annual Ontario Tourism Summit.

About the Ontario Tourism Education Corporation (OTEC)

The Ontario Tourism Education Corporation (OTEC) is Ontario’s tourism and hospitality workforce development organization. OTEC is an independent, not-for-profit training, consulting, and workforce development organization that delivers innovative, high-quality solutions for the development and growth of a professional, skilled workforce.

OTEC provides a diverse portfolio of customized, sector-specific workforce solutions designed to ensure organizations achieve the highest standards of service and performance objectives – including customer service and leadership training, upskilling and reskilling, professional certifications, HR technology, and consulting services for a wide range of businesses and destinations.

Skills and labour challenges are among the most pressing issues faced by the tourism and hospitality industry. To address this, OTEC directs tourism and hospitality workforce development efforts across the province in its capacity as the founder and chair of Tourism SkillsNet Ontario (TSNO).

TIAO Media Contact
Şimal Görmüş
Communications & Multimedia Specialist

OTEC Media Contact
Camila Borghetti
Senior Manager, Strategic Communications


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