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Toronto Tourism

Toronto welcomed 27.5 million tourists in 2018, new report says

Visitors spent some $10B in the Greater Toronto Area

CBC News · Posted: Nov 25, 2019 8:34 AM ET

I imagine a lot of those were sports event related. With the Raptors returning to their natural low ranking, I wonder if the numbers for 2019 will be lower.

Myself, outside of sports, if I’m American I’m not sure why I’d visit Toronto. A big name American-brand aquarium downtown, maybe. Currency advantage for shopping? Perhaps, but I’m an avid minimalist, my thrill is donating things, not acquiring them.

When I look back on 2018 where I visited, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and yes American cities Seattle, San Francisco, Juneau, Charlestown, SC and Manhattan.... what appealed to me was the vibrancy for most, and the cultural differences.
 
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I imagine a lot of those were sports event related. With the Raptors returning to their natural low ranking, I wonder if the numbers for 2019 will be lower.

You mean #5 in the Eastern Conference thus far, and #2 in wins, in same?

Myself, outside of sports, if I’m American I’m not sure why I’d visit Toronto. A big name American-brand aquarium downtown, maybe. Currency advantage for shopping? Perhaps, but I’m an avid minimalist, my thrill is donating things, not acquiring them.

Clearly you haven't read this thread. I really think you're capable of not merely reasonable, but high-quality posts; but equally your prone to off-the-cuff remarks that don't reflect a whole lot of thought.

First off, Americans are not the world; so let's get this straight, we're more than happy to see folks in from driving distance from the U.S. but that's not the primary tourism market.

Second, are you seriously questioning why someone from Buffalo, Rochester, Cleveland or Detroit would come to Toronto as a tourist? Tell me how many Sak's stores each has please, how many Nordstrom's, how many Holt's? (for the record, Cleveland has 1 small Sak's, and 1 Nordstrom, while suburban Detroit has 1 of the latter, collectively they have have 0 Holts) ; tell me about their vibrant culinary scenes etc etc. No disrespect to those places, but they are smaller, less diverse, and less wealthy than Toronto and that reflects the experience of Shopping, dining and theatre choices.

Toronto is the 2nd largest source of English language live theatre in North America, and 3rd largest in the world.

Sure there are many ways our City can and should improve; but implying we're some boring backwater with nothing to do borders on the absurd.

When I look back on 2018 where I visited, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and yes American cities Seattle, San Francisco, Juneau, Charlestown, SC and Manhattan.... what appealed to me was the vibrancy for most, and the cultural differences.

Right, so alot of where you have gone is where I have been or is on my list to go.

First observation you've missed; if you like Seoul because it doesn't feel like Toronto to you; what might someone from Seoul want? (hint, something that doesn't feel like Seoul).

For many people from around the world, particularly those outside North America, Toronto is quite distinct from their home communities; Its 'English' but not British; Its as diverse a City as there is; its areas like Cabbagetown largely have no European or Asian proxy; what you consider 'everyday' is not everyone's everyday.

Further, while your busy comparing our museum's or galleries or even restaurants with the best experience in London, Paris, Hong Kong or NYC; you need to realize most people don't live in said cities.

People go on vacations who live in Indianapolis, Atlanta, Glasgow, and Dusseldorf, Perth and Mumbai.

Really, dial back the bashing of your hometown.

I'm all for constructive critiques, there are plenty of areas to improve and we ought not to settle or be complacent; but let's steer clear of self-doubt and self-flagellation.

For the record; the origin of Toronto's overnight visitors:

  • 5.1 million overnight visitors came from international destinations (non-US)
  • 2.9 million overnight visitors came from the U.S.
  • 7.5 million overnight visitors from the rest of Canada
 
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@Northern Light

Fair points. I admire your optimism, and you certainly paint a picture of a vibrant place worthy of and in actuality achieving the world's attention.

From your post above it seems we're doing great, millions of visitors, leading cultural events, etc. So, what do you want to improve?
 
@Northern Light

Fair points. I admire your optimism, and you certainly paint a picture of a vibrant place worthy of and in actuality achieving the world's attention.

From your post above it seems we're doing great, millions of visitors, leading cultural events, etc. So, what do you want to improve?

From a tourist perspective ( a list that varies somewhat from what I would like to see done as a local)

1) Public realm improvement. We know we can do and have done some really nice streetscapes, but far too few.

Our main streets, with a few exceptions rate 'fair' at best and often 'poor' in terms of their aesthetic appeal.

From a tourist perspective, most of the improvement should be centred on the core (Don River to Strachan, Davenport to the Lake; with select improvements around key attractions outside the core (Canada's Wonderland, Science Centre etc.

I would focus on delivering:

Queen's Quay East and LRT
Revitalized Yonge
University Avenue as a Great Street
More localized investments for the Entertainment District, Chinatown, St. Lawrence and Yorkville.
- John Street Revitalizatoin, Adelaide and Duncan
- Colborne, Wellington, Scott, Victoria and Church south of Adelaide
- Chinatown Gateway Arch, Beautified and widened sidewalks on Dundas where practical
- Balmuto, Charles, Bay Street and complete Bloor with new streetlights.

Public Realm non-streetscape (Parks, public squares etc.)

- Finish Waterfront Promenade and Boardwalk with all connecting foot bridges
- Facelift Allen Gardens, including restored/expanded Palm House, signature main pathways (stone/interlock, not asphalt), siganture water fountain.
- Major redo of Moss Park
- Finish Nathan Phillips Square (forecourt, planters, tear down bridge over Queen)
- U of T King's College Circle and related re-do
- Upgrade Dundas Square
- Facelift and expand the greenspace at Metropolitan United at Queen/Church
- Finish uplighting of key heritage landmarks

2) Greater nightlife

- As soon as ATC is in place, operate the core of line 1 (if not all of it) 24-hours on weekends.

- Expand overnight TTC routes by at least 5 in the burbs and 2 downtown.

- Improve all overnight transit service to every 20m or better

- Upon completing the above, extend last call to 3am, lower legal drinking age to 18 (matches Quebec)

- Extending regular evening hours of major attractions (ie. AGO/ROM to a baseline of not less than 9pm nightly; and later on weekends wherever demand warrants.

- Extend default patio hours, and make them longer in key areas.

3) Enhance/Celebrate Toronto's cultural distinctions relative to the world; cultural/linguistic diversity, a large francophone community in an 'English' City, First Nations presence.

-Do the above by,:

- Highlighting the french fact where practical (overtime making TTC signage bilingual as its replaced, select bilingual TTC announcements, presence of (some day) a French University.

- Investing in enhancing Toronto's key 'ethnic' retail strips with both public realm but also facade/architecture improvements. One mustn't be too kitsch, but more nods architecturally to the cultures being celebrated would not be a bad thing.

- Encourage more use of indigenous to Canada food ingredients by our restaurants

- Consider a single Indigenous-focused attraction specifically looking at the history and culture of those peoples who were Toronto's first residents.

4) Improve the culinary scene

Its already great, but it can be elevated and better recognized.

- Consider paying for Michelin to do a guide (California did)

- Ask restaurants with ethnic cuisine what ingredients from their ancestral counties they have difficulty sourcing, if any, Facilitate fixing that for enhanced authenticity in cuisine.

5) Address winter better.

- Make bus shelters w/heaters the norm

- Improve plowing to the Montreal standard (remove parking during plowing)

- Install select heated sidewalks

- Find ways to celebrate winter by using ravines/natural corridors to allow for cross-country skiing

- Improve quality/length and amenity of skating trails (heated change rooms, washrooms, concessions)

6) Exploit our status as a Global leader in TV/Film production with the tourist-accessible studio sites

7) Better connections to/from regional attractions, including Niagara Falls and Stratford

8) Better exploit (in a sustainable way), Toronto's natural areas.

-Many people who stand atop or below the Scarborough Bluffs are awed. But the park space in much of the area is also-ran or never-was, and access is poor even by car.
The new Scarborough Waterfront Trail and Bluffer's Park access projects will be very helpful in this regard; but more can/should be done to have a connected trail, and green ribbon along the top of the Bluffs, more signature park spaces, add concessions/washrooms in key locations and make additional connections between the top and bottom where they would create the least harm, environmental or aesthetic.

- Rouge Park needs its Visitors Centre, but also upgraded trails, a trail connection from the southern park to Steeles, canoe/kayak rentals and much better camping facilities.

- Complete other key natural heritage projects, especially those in proximity to the core. (Lower Don, Toronto Botanical Garden etc.
 
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Are there statistics on family-driven tourism? I suspect that in a city where almost half its residents are immigrants, that it acts as a huge driver for tourism: think weddings, birthdays, family reunions, etc. Unfortunately, I suspect most of these types of tourists aren't staying in downtown hotels and are likely crashing on couches or in basements.
 
From a tourist perspective ( a list that varies somewhat from what I would like to see done as a local)

1) Public realm improvement. We know we can do and have done some really nice streetscapes, but far too few.

Our main streets, with a few exceptions rate 'fair' at best and often 'poor' in terms of their aesthetic appeal.

From a tourist perspective, most of the improvement should be centred on the core (Don River to Strachan, Davenport to the Lake; with select improvements around key attractions outside the core (Canada's Wonderland, Science Centre etc.

I would focus on delivering:

Queen's Quay East and LRT
Revitalized Yonge
University Avenue as a Great Street
More localized investments for the Entertainment District, Chinatown, St. Lawrence and Yorkville.
- John Street Revitalizatoin, Adelaide and Duncan
- Colborne, Wellington, Scott, Victoria and Church south of Adelaide
- Chinatown Gateway Arch, Beautified and widened sidewalks on Dundas where practical
- Balmuto, Charles, Bay Street and complete Bloor with new streetlights.

Public Realm non-streetscape (Parks, public squares etc.)

- Finish Waterfront Promenade and Boardwalk with all connecting foot bridges
- Facelift Allen Gardens, including restored/expanded Palm House, signature main pathways (stone/interlock, not asphalt), siganture water fountain.
- Major redo of Moss Park
- Finish Nathan Phillips Square (forecourt, planters, tear down bridge over Queen)
- U of T King's College Circle and related re-do
- Upgrade Dundas Square
- Facelift and expand the greenspace at Metropolitan United at Queen/Church
- Finish uplighting of key heritage landmarks

2) Greater nightlife

- As soon as ATC is in place, operate the core of line 1 (if not all of it) 24-hours on weekends.

- Expand overnight TTC routes by at least 5 in the burbs and 2 downtown.

- Improve all overnight transit service to every 20m or better

- Upon completing the above, extend last call to 3am, lower legal drinking age to 18 (matches Quebec)

- Extending regular evening hours of major attractions (ie. AGO/ROM to a baseline of not less than 9pm nightly; and later on weekends wherever demand warrants.

- Extend default patio hours, and make them longer in key areas.

3) Enhance/Celebrate Toronto's cultural distinctions relative to the world; cultural/linguistic diversity, a large francophone community in an 'English' City, First Nations presence.

-Do the above by,:

- Highlighting the french fact where practical (overtime making TTC signage bilingual as its replaced, select bilingual TTC announcements, presence of (some day) a French University.

- Investing in enhancing Toronto's key 'ethnic' retail strips with both public realm but also facade/architecture improvements. One mustn't be too kitsch, but more nods architecturally to the cultures being celebrated would not be a bad thing.

- Encourage more use of indigenous to Canada food ingredients by our restaurants

- Consider a single Indigenous-focused attraction specifically looking at the history and culture of those peoples who were Toronto's first residents.

4) Improve the culinary scene

Its already great, but it can be elevated and better recognized.

- Consider paying for Michelin to do a guide (California did)

- Ask restaurants with ethnic cuisine what ingredients from their ancestral counties they have difficulty sourcing, if any, Facilitate fixing that for enhanced authenticity in cuisine.

5) Address winter better.

- Make bus shelters w/heaters the norm

- Improve plowing to the Montreal standard (remove parking during plowing)

- Install select heated sidewalks

- Find ways to celebrate winter by using ravines/natural corridors to allow for cross-country skiing

- Improve quality/length and amenity of skating trails (heated change rooms, washrooms, concessions)

6) Exploit our status as a Global leader in TV/Film production with the tourist-accessible studio sites

7) Better connections to/from regional attractions, including Niagara Falls and Stratford

8) Better exploit (in a sustainable way), Toronto's natural areas.

-Many people who stand atop or below the Scarborough Bluffs are awed. But the park space in much of the area is also-ran or never-was, and access is poor even by car.
The new Scarborough Waterfront Trail and Bluffer's Park access projects will be very helpful in this regard; but more can/should be done to have a connected trail, and green ribbon along the top of the Bluffs, more signature park spaces, add concessions/washrooms in key locations and make additional connections between the top and bottom where they would create the least harm, environmental or aesthetic.

- Rouge Park needs its Visitors Centre, but also upgraded trails, a trail connection from the southern park to Steeles, canoe/kayak rentals and much better camping facilities.

- Complete other key natural heritage projects, especially those in proximity to the core. (Lower Don, Toronto Botanical Garden etc.

Send this to Tory!
 
Record number of tourists visited Toronto in 2019

Katherine DeClerq Multi-Platform Writer, CTV News Toronto
Published Wednesday, February 26, 2020 4:04PM EST

TORONTO -- About half a million more people visited Toronto last year than in 2018, setting a new record for number of tourists who travelled to the city.

According to Tourism Toronto, about 28 million people travelled to Toronto in 2019. In a news release issued Tuesday, the agency said the tourists spent about $6.7 billion while in the city, including at restaurants and attractions, as well as on transportation, retail and accommodations.

At least two million of those visitors were from the United States.

 
Ottawa announces nearly $8M in funding for Tourism Toronto

May 31, 2020

Tourism Toronto is set to receive nearly $8 million in federal funding.

In a news release, the federal government announced that it will invest $7.9 million to support the tourism agency's marketing efforts because travel and tourism-related activities have been brought to a standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our tourism sector and the 1.8 million people it employs across Canada have been hit hard by
COVID-19, and we're here for them," Melanie Joly, minister of economic development and official languages, said in the release.

The funding, which will be delivered in partnership through FedDev Ontario and the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario, is part of more than $70 million of federal support to tourism programs around the country announced on Sunday.

The support comes from the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund, a national $962-million fund aimed at supporting businesses and organizations that are unable to access other existing measures launched earlier in May in response to the pandemic.

----------
Province likely to lose 50% of tourism revenue this year

Beth Potter, president and CEO of Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO), said the industry brings in $36 billion annually across Ontario.

Due to COVID-19, Potter said the province is looking at losing just over 50 per cent of that revenue in 2020.

Additionally, she said about 65 per cent of Ontario tourism businesses are closed and some 38 per cent of jobs have been lost.

Potter said TIAO is now working with destination marketing organizations across the province "to bring Ontarians to their local communities."

"We're really pushing Ontarians to get out and explore this summer, to go parts of the province you haven't been to."



Tourism groups shifting to promote hyperlocal tourism in Ontario as a result of pandemic, travel restrictions

MAY 31, 2020

Ontario is still yours to discover, even if it’s not fully open for business. That’s the message the province’s struggling tourism industry is trying to send out as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

It got a boost from the federal government Sunday, with Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages Mélanie Joly announcing $30 million in funding for the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario.

TIAO will distribute the money to destination marketing organizations in Southern Ontario, who will use the funds to develop marketing campaigns and strategies to get people out in their regions and help the industry back on its feet.

“Our tourism sector and the 1.8 million people it employs across Canada have been hit hard by COVID-19, and we’re here for them,” Joly said in a release. “During National Tourism Week, our message to the sector and those whose livelihoods depend on it is clear: We’re working with you to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.”

 
Even when the pandemic is over, will people rush back to concerts, museums, or football games?

There is plenty of evidence following year long strikes that people do come back; though it might take a couple years.
 
There is plenty of evidence following year long strikes that people do come back; though it might take a couple years.

For concerts, attractions, and sporting events, it'll come down to consumer confidence and public safety. Tourism numbers will be down for sure as international visitors will be missing for a while. The recovery will be gradual where we'll start with local and regional tourists. But fuller numbers won't be achieved until a Covid vaccine is developed. And even after that, it will still be a gradual process where consumers will re-adapt to feeling comfortable again with large crowd venues. All in all, likely at least a 2 year process.
 
Commentary from Manga Hotels' CEO about the downtown Toronto hotel market:



Manga acquired its downtown Toronto sites before the pandemic when the company believed the city’s strong hotel performance of 2018 and 2019 would continue and it would attract large numbers of business travellers and tourists.

“Downtown Toronto is suffering badly,” said Toor. “The airport is obviously bad.

“Some smaller towns are doing OK. But the bigger city centres in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal have been the hardest hit because they depend more on conferences, meetings and groups, which are non-existent right now.”

Despite the precipitous drop in business over the past 15 months due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, Toor said Manga decided to take a “contrarian view” and stick with its ambitious plans.

It has not sold any of its high-priced real estate, nor has it turned to building apartments or condominiums on its downtown Toronto sites.

“The last year has been very, very tough and it’s still tough and difficult,” said Toor. “The airline, restaurant and hotel industries have been the hardest hit, but we’ve received good support from the federal government to keep us alive.”

Toor is eagerly waiting for the border between Canada and the United States to fully open and for travel to return to pre-pandemic levels.

He’s hopeful the hotel market will be in pretty good shape by September. Toor believes leisure travel will return first, followed by business and conference travel.
 

Ontario's hard hit hotel industry hopes for recovery amid pandemic


Sept 8, 2021

"Most of the hotels that were closed in the past have re-opened,” Terry Mundell, CEO of the Greater Toronto Hotel Association, said.

Mundell said while the hotels have been missing out on conventions and major events, as the border re-opens to American visitors and international travel restrictions are lifted, some business travel is starting to return.

“We are getting meetings and events coming back, but it's slow and generally smaller groups,” Mundell said. “We are in better shape than we were last year, but clearly we have a long way to go."

As hotels get ready to welcome back visitors, it's also dealing with a severe staff shortage.

“We lost a significant amount of workers when travel ground to a halt and many of the workers did transition into other sectors and we are aggressively trying to recruit them back, but the demand (for hotel stays) just hasn't been there," Susie Grynol, CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada, said.

Grynol said she believes the hotel sector will begin a more robust recovery starting in the spring of next year. The group says nationally occupancy rates are down about 50 per cent from 2019 pre-pandemic levels and believes vaccine passports will give visitors more confidence to travel.

“Vaccine passports are going to allow for the movement of people and allow people to feel safe so we do support them. We do hope there is not a different system in every province that makes it difficult for people to move around," Grynol said.

The return of sporting events, festivals and concerts will also help the hotel industry return to pre-pandemic occupancy rates.

Both associations feel the fall and winter months will continue to be difficult for the hotel industry, but they're hopeful early 2022 will see the sector start on the road to recovery.

 

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