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Accommodation and Food Services

The accommodation and food services industry offers people a place to sleep and something to eat or drink when they are away from home. Accommodations can range from small-town campgrounds to hotels and large resorts. Food services include the morning's drive-through coffee or an evening meal at a favourite restaurant. In 2016, travellers in Alberta spent an estimated $6 billion on overnight visits. The restaurant industry had $11 billion in annual sales in the same year.

GDP Gross Domestic Product

Gross domestic product (GDP) measures the overall size of an economy. In 2015, the accommodation and food services industry made up 1.9% of Alberta's GDP. This is a 0.1% reduction from 2013.

Alberta’s GDP
Reduction from 2013
  • Short-term lodgings such as hotels, resorts, motels, bed and breakfast accommodations, housekeeping cottages, cabins, campgrounds, and hunting and fishing camps
  • Meals, snacks, and beverages

The accommodation and food services industry employed 144,300 people in 2016. This is a decrease of 9,100 jobs (-5.9%) from 2015.


61,400 men worked in the industry in 2016 (up 7.3% or 4,200 jobs from 2015)


82,900 women worked in the industry in 2016 (down 13.9% or 13,400 jobs)

Average Wage
Accommodation and Food Services
Average Hourly Wage
Average Hourly Wage
  • The average 2016 hourly wage of $15.65 for the accommodation and food services industry was below the provincial average of $29.61.
Industry Performance

Weak oil prices in 2016 affected consumer confidence and household spending. This meant a 2.0% drop in domestic travel and no growth in overall overnight visits. Lower business investment continued to affect business overnight visits in 2016, though not as much as in the previous year.  Calgary had a drop of 3.5% and Edmonton saw a 2.8% downturn.

While Albertans may have cut back on hotel stays during the downturn, food services industry data shows  they still love going out to eat and drink. In 2016, each restaurant or bar patron in Alberta spent an average of $2,110. This was more than in any other province. It also means better profits for owners. Alberta’s food service industry is second only to Saskatchewan’s in terms of high operating margins or profits. Nevertheless, higher payroll and energy costs affect the bottom line.

Industry Performance
Industry Outlook
Industry Outlook

Alberta’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism has set a $10.3 billion goal for the industry by 2020. Several factors will help to increase overnight visits by about 2.8% in 2017. These include a recovering Alberta economy and free entry to Alberta’s national parks. More international visitors lured by Canada's weaker dollar will also help tourism. By 2020, U.S. tourists will spend $1.1 billion in the province. Overseas tourists will add another $1.6 billion. New, direct flights from Beijing and Mexico City to Calgary will provide some of that boost. Edmonton’s newly built Rogers Place arena and Royal Alberta Museum will also boost spending. As the economy improves, Albertans who stay confident about their employment and income will continue to go out to eat and drink. Industry experts see more demand for fast, take-away breakfasts as a trend to watch.

Industry Employment Trends

Employment in this industry is expected to grow at an average rate of 1.5% from 2016 to 2019.

OCCinfo has more information about occupations in Alberta, including details about duties, working conditions, educational requirements, employment outlook, and salary ranges. You can also find reports on region-specific information about wages, job vacancies, and hiring difficulties in this industry. Visit the Survey Analysis to learn more.

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