Canada / Coronavirus Insights
The Effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic on Live Events in Canada

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by Eva Koronios, Industry Analyst
Sep 30 2020

In early 2020, the emergence and subsequent spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) within Canada has caused both the Canadian federal government and many provincial governments to issue various stay-at-home orders and social distancing mandates in an attempt to halt the spread of the virus. Moreover, these stay-at-home orders will likely continue to persist, at least in the short term. Most recently, Quebec and Ontario have each reported a rise in coronavirus cases, which many signal the beginning of a second wave of infections across Canada.

Although the live events sector in Canada encompasses many different types of events, live events organizers are projected to contend with many of the same struggles in 2020 as the sector’s entire range of business operations have effectively been put on hold to some degree in the interest of public health and safety. To this end, Canada’s sizable live events sector, which is estimated to employ 1.0 million Canadians, is anticipated to experience a particularly difficult year with regard to revenue and profit. Read on for IBISWorld’s analysis of some of the specific Canadian live events industries that have been affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Convention and visitor bureaus

The Convention and Visitor Bureaus industry in Canada (IBISWorld report 56159CA) markets and promotes communities and local facilities to business and leisure travelers. Additionally, establishments that operate in this industry also assist a range of organizations, including meeting and convention sites, providing travel and accommodation information pertaining to their particular areas and organizing group tours of local attractions.

Industry revenue is forecast to decline 13.7% in 2020 alone. This is amid marked declines in corporate profit and inbound international travel to Canada, with the latter forecast to drop a staggering 80.7% in 2020 as individuals and organizations cancel all nonmandatory business events and leisure trips out of economic and safety concerns.

Spectator sports

Similarly, the Spectator Sports industry in Canada (71120CA) is anticipated to experience revenue decline 6.0% in 2020, which has also been a result of the coronavirus pandemic, due mainly to the National Hockey League (NHL) suspending its 2019-20 season. Moreover, the Canadian Football League (CFL) has delayed the beginning of its preseason, with the start of its regular season remaining in question.

As this industry is reliant on holding live events before a paying audience in either professional or semiprofessional sporting arenas, industry operators in the Spectator Sports industry, similar to operators in the Convention and Visitor Bureaus industry, are unable move these operations online, as many other industries have done. Additionally, safety concerns over virus transmission between sports players have further precluded the possibility of contact sports at the time of writing, with Hockey Canada recently announcing the further cancellation of multiple fall hockey events and the rescheduling of these events to 2021.

Potential cultural impact

Ultimately, live events organizers remain especially concerned over the lasting effects of the pandemic, as many live events are viewed as culturally significant and assist in stimulating provincial and local economies. For example, the Convention and Visitor Bureaus industry is built around this very concept.

Considering that this sector was one of the first to shut down and will likely be one of the slowest sectors to return to full operational capacity, operators are rightfully concerned over their revenue and profit prospects in the long run. Even as the Canadian economy eventually recovers, reopening the live music industry will likely involve a delicate balance between addressing safety concerns in addition to successfully crafting and implementing the proper safety protocols.

Nevertheless, individuals and workplaces may remain hesitant to participate in live events simply out of a desire to continue adhering to social distancing guidelines. Overall, it is very likely that until the development of a vaccine assists in safely facilitating the presence of larger public gatherings, the live events industry in Canada is expected to continue experiencing a variety of setbacks in sustaining its operations.


Edited by Alexandria Valenti