News   Jul 19, 2024
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Toronto Tourism

You're absolutely right that the condos themselves have not driven people away. The problem is that they don't attract anybody either. People go down to the waterfront to see Harbourfront Centre, to eat at one of the (few) restaurants at Queens Quay terminal. They don't go their to look at Malibu or WaterParkCity.
It's the downtown of a major city - most of the buildings don't "attract anybody" per se, they have people living and working in them. That's how it is in every city around the world, that's how it should be. The entire length of Queen's Quay can't be lined on both sides with Harbourfront Centres - there has to be places for people to live. Besides, there's nothing preventing restaurants or art galleries from opening in the retail spaces in the residential buildings. That's why requiring retail in buildings in certain areas is so important - to allow for those attractions to develop. That's more important than even the architecture.

edit - interesting that you mention Queen's Quay Terminal, which is essentially a condo with a mall in it. It's not really that different from WaterParkCity, except that it's old and has more commercial space.

The government should give another tax break if movies use Toronto as Toronto!
That's a great idea.
interesting that you mention Queen's Quay Terminal, which is essentially a condo with a mall in it.

To be even more accurate, it's an office building with condos on top, and a mall on the main floor.
What tourism Toronto needs to do is advertise more around the world and not just the USA because foriegn people will stay longer because their coming from further distances! I must say though that they are starting to do this because they jsut opened an office in London, so that's a start! But I must keep saying this Toronto has a MASSIVE film industry and these films shot in Toronto should use Toronto as Toronto!!!! Once this happens it will be like a chain reaction! Places in this city that have not been discovered yet will be. Like the Distellery District, if major films use the Disterilly District for "Toronto" and these films make to major film festivals like Cannes etc and show in major movie theatres etc then more people will see what we have and may want to come and see it for themselves! Look at Times Square, because of all the movies it is features in many people when they go to New York MUST see Times Square! This is what Toronto needs to do! And we need to utilize our winter months more. We can dress up the city in lights, have a big snow building compeition, where artist who use snow to make sculptures etc can compete and show off their art! Things like these are what will attract people and help the hotel industry in slow business months of the winter!
we really need to use the fact that we have the Niagara Falls area (not just the falls but the casino-entertainment district down there) as kinda like Toronto's playground. that and food in toronto (multiculturalism is not a tourism draw, but the food diversity that results is!)
I dunno. I think things are looking up. In the last five years, off the top of my head:

- The Distillery District has not only survived an early rocky start, it is beginning to come into its own. When there are festivals, the place is packed. In between, there is still quite a bit to see, and finally a few restaurants that are actually worth eating at. I think its now a "must see" on the Toronto tourist circuit, and it opens up the downtown east to more tourism.

- The ROM Crystal has finally opened. Love it or hate it, you can't miss it, and it sure is a conversation piece.

- The Four Season's theatre opened, a vast improvement on the parking lot that was there before.

- The Toronto Film Festival building is now under construction at King and John. It'll be a few years, but it will be a sharp improvement over, yes, yet another parking lot.

- Progress is slowly starting on the Waterfront. H2O finally opened, which alone isn't much, but it's something. The east Donlands have been razed, there's construction fencing around it, and some appearance of progress. The waterfront revitalization will take years and decades, but it is happening.

- Dundas Square. Less than a decade ago that area was a complete shit hole, frankly. It was scary, filled with loomy dank buildings and creepy people lurking in doorways. Again, love it or hate it, you can't argue that the square is a much better place now than it was when it was dominated by "The World's Biggest Jean Store". The giant movie theater monstrosity is finally going to open soon on the north-east corner, too, and even though it will be ugly, it will at least bring the square to completion and make it a proper destination. The Ryerson building at Dundas and Bay is done, and they'll soon be taking over the old Sam's location: yes, I loved Sam's too, but this will be good for the area.

- The AGO work is not too far off completion now. Again, love or hate the new design, it can't be worse than the old 1970s-era concrete bunker that has been there since I was in elementary school. Just south of there, the new OCAD building is also a must-see; a lot of people hated it when the concept drawings first came out (myself included) but I hear a lot less grumbling about it now.

- The St. Lawrence North Market is slated for a total rebuild soon. It will be a few years, but I can imagine that with a nice, large modern building there it the area will be able to host even more tourist-oriented events and festivals. The immediate area has seen some rejuvenation, too, with new TD and Royal Bank branches, and upscale businesses stretching along King East.

And many, many more things, I'm sure. I'm about as negative as it comes, but to infer that Toronto is doing nothing to improve itself is ridiculous. But change doesn't come overnight, and we can't stick up a new CN tower every two years.
One word answer: SARS

Major conferences book venues 3 to 5 years in advance. Guess what events occurred in Toronto when they would have been booking 2007 events? How many major conferences have been in Toronto this year? You know, the ones with 10 thousand to 20 thousand participants?

When we ran PGCon in 2005, a tiny 200 person conference, we were forced to shift the date we wanted to get appropriate hotel availability. Lack of major conferences make a huge difference because all the little guys can spread out through the entire season.

Short and sweet of it is that 2008/2009 venue bookings are back up again because 2004/2005 were good years for Toronto.
You're absolutely right that the condos themselves have not driven people away. The problem is that they don't attract anybody either. People go down to the waterfront to see Harbourfront Centre, to eat at one of the (few) restaurants at Queens Quay terminal. They don't go their to look at Malibu or WaterParkCity.
In Hong Kong, condos and hotels dominate the waterfront, and yet it remains a top tourist destination.

Personally, I am always pleased when I drive along the GEW (is that the correct accronym) and see the towering condos near the Rogers Centre. To me it signifies that monied people are taking up residence in the city, living where they work and partaking in what the city has to offer. I'd rather have thousands of new permament residents living in the city and supporting the local restaurants and businesses than pandering to the tourist trade.

IMO, Toronto, much like most American cities in the 1.5-2.5 million population range is not a tourism city, but is instead built to serve its resident population and the surrounding suburbs. When was the last time you thought of visiting Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, or San Antonio?
"Create direct high-speed service from Pearson airport to downtown Toronto"

WTF? What does this even mean? I can't beleive the star printed that craptastic article. If only everyones random brainstorming was printed in a major newspaper.

I don't think the answer is a major "tourist trap" down by the waterfront...we already have a couple pretty big ones...which are quite sucessful at bringing in tourists. I think we have to continue doing what we do best- street festivals, diverse neighbourhoods....along with general downtown/waterfront revitalization that is underway...

Im always so surprised people want to visit Toronto. Its an awesome place to live, but to visit?
How about we rid the eastbound Jarvis exit of the Gardiner of the beggars that walk up and down the row of cars waiting for the green light. This is one of the main entrances to Toronto for any Americans driving from the Buffalo boarder crossing, and the first thing they see are a couple of beggars, which gives a bad first impression.

Okay, we can debate on possible solutions or declare that nothing can be done and that it's their right to be there, and that there's no law against looking scruffy and holding a sign or cup by the road side. But the fact remains that it makes our city look bad before the tourists even get into the city.
The city seems to be a bit of tough sell as it doesn't have the natural beauty of Vancouver or the distinct European flare and architecture of Montreal that is so appealing to Americans. Toronto is also competing with such major and well established World cities like New York and Chicago for international travellers. I think a lot of visitors are looking for uniqueness and the exotic in destinations and I fear that TO doesn't come across as being particularly distinct from big american cities. Wasn't there a survey done not too long ago that indicated, in terms of international profile, that Montreal and Vancouver stood out more prominently than Toronto?

But I think this article is way too negative, failing to mention some very significant cultural projects, the ongoing revival of the waterfront, as well as such high profile events as Caribana and TIFF. With regards to highrises in the article, I have no idea what this has to do with anything as NY and Chicago have much bigger and more prominent buildings than Toronto.

That said, I think the city could use a fresh attraction downtown- perhaps a revamping of Ontario place. I also thought that Technodome proposed a few years ago would have been a unique opportunity. I think turning a high profile heritage property in a prime tourist zone over to a furniture store certainly was a missed opportunity for a unique project. And whatever happened to Metronome? Even relatively small initiatives like this seem to take decades to resolve in this city.
seeing as how most of our hotels are clustered in the downtown core, the state of the public infrastructure there is downright embarassing. Practically every pole of any kind leans at an angle, is rusty or covered in tape and signs, plus, what other major city in the world has 50 year old wooden utility poles and wires lining practically every street. then there's dead trees, crumbling planters, bums laying around on the corners of intersections, patches of ashpalt all over the place on sidewalks etc etc etc. Toronto is competing against cities that now do a far better job of making themselves appealing. Chicago may have its run down neighbourhoods that tourists rarely see, but the downtown gleams
Yes bubba and skeeter have been very diligent in patching up the cracks and holes with blacktop throughout the city- kind of indicative of the way things are done in general at city hall. I'm not sure what's going on with the Bloor/ Yorkville beautification project but as of now it looks the same as it always did. It would certainly be nice to have at least a few of the downtown strips looking spiffy and polished.
were to focused on equality in the city.

We have some warped idea that all sections must be just as nice.

I think there is nothing unfair about making certain sections of the city look much better then others.

However i have noticed Toronto was sort of built for people to live in and not really with tourists in mind. Thus, it ranks high in the world's most livable cities.
This question comes up time and time again and basically my reply every time is we make Toronto more of a tourist attraction by excelling in the human activities we engage in from the arts to sporting leagues to stamp collecting. That is where you get your raw numbers from regardless of the fact that your city doesn't conjure images of exotic romance.

An interesting question would be how do we sex up the areas we are weakest in, exotic location, beauty and scenery? Are we ever going to be Rio? No. But I think we do a poor job with the assets we have. For instance with few exception most of the scenic vantage points in the city are poorly developed and hidden. We are the gateway to niagra falls, which whatever you think of it is known internationally as one of the natural wonders of the world. We have km after km of poorly developed beaches. We have an intricate network of islands and spits along the waterfront that you could transplant the entire city of venice to that are not used to advantage. Culturally has it ever occured to us that to Americans we do have european cultural cache? Fine English is not as exotic as French but our British colonial heritage is certainly not developed as an asset. etc.
we just need to be known for something. which we are not (and don't tell me multiculturalism). beauty: give it up with scenery cuz we just don't have it. the toronto culture: really nothing special to tourists unless you pick at it real bad. we can't even be thought of as a shopping mecca. we're really just another city.

gotta have something people can do/see here that's kinda special. perhaps toronto is the place where you can taste the best of the world.

and we need a lot more people living downtown.. create a much more bustling image of toronto and much better pedestrian presence. for one, we don't have anything like robson street in vancouver (hope queen st west will turn into something tourist-ly nice tho, and whenever dundas square decides to complete with metropolis). we need to look livelier in the city core.