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Toronto Still A Hot Spot For Tourists

The financial crisis that affected the globe over the course of the last year or so certainly had its impact on all kinds of businesses. Slower sales turned into job losses which turned into growing concern than some industries would find it difficult to even survive into the new decade.

One industry that seems to have not been impacted too greatly however is tourism in Toronto. According to Business Reporter, Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew in today’s edition of The Toronto Star, Toronto’s tourism industry remained fairly steady throughout 2009. Citing a report released by Tourism Toronto yesterday, the city welcomed 10 million overnight visitors in 2009 which was down by only about 600,000 people from the year before.

It seems like the biggest city in Canada is still one of the country’s biggest attractions. The fact that Toronto still generates enough interest to draw in visitors during hard economic times speaks volumes about the fact that it is a world-class city. Perhaps, more importantly, it also helps to generate much needed revenue for the many different businesses throughout Toronto.

As Acharya-Tom Yew writes: “In 2008, overnight visitors added about $3.5 billion to the economy in the Greater Toronto Area as they spent money on hotels, restaurants and shopping. Another 10 million day trippers contributed an additional $1 billion.”

In 2009, a major hit to tourism in Toronto was expected as the first half of the year showed that many would-be travellers were staying home. In addition to being cash-strapped, people may have also been put off by Toronto’s unseasonably cool and wet spring season during May and June. During this time, hotel occupancy rates decreased by approximately 10 per cent from their 2008 levels.

As if that wasn’t enough to hurt the tourism industry in T.O., new laws regarding travel within North America were not making it any easier for visitors to flock to the city. Acharya-Tom Yew reminds us that “along with the stronger Canadian dollar, new rules requiring American visitors to present a passport at the border and travellers from Mexico to have visas seemed to add insult to the tourism industry’s injuries.”

However, by the time August rolled around, better weather and signs of a growing economy reared their heads. As mentioned in the Synergy Merchant Services Blog back in August 2009, Toronto’s annual Caribana festival and parade celebrating Caribbean music and culture, brought in upwards of $350 million to the city drawing 1.2 million revellers.

In addition to this year’s parade, Toronto has a number of high-profile international events on the horizon including the International Indian Film Academy Awards in 2011 and the Pan Am Games in 2015. Tourism in the city, of course, is expected to continue to rise.

Says Toronto Tourism spokesman Andrew Weir: “We want to raise Toronto’s profile, make sure people know this is one of the top urban destinations in North America…If you like cities, Toronto should be on your list and it should be high on your list.”

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