Tourism In Toronto Continues Strong Rebound

Growth in Leisure and Convention Travel despite mounting marketplace challenges

Tourism Toronto Tourism in Toronto is rebounding steadily due largely to increases in overseas visitors and surging convention business,according to a report released today by Tourism Toronto, the Toronto Convention and Visitors Association. The mid-year report highlights the significant challenges the Canadian tourism industry continues to face, particularly in the U.S., and shows how Tourism Toronto's plan is countering these difficult market conditions. Tourism Toronto is the private-sector industry association responsible for marketing Toronto as a visitor destination.

Tourist visits to Ontario from overseas increased by 12.5% in the first six months of 2005 compared with the same period in 2004, with four markets accounting for the majority of the growth: U.K. (5.3%), Germany (10.1%), Japan(40.4%) and South Korea (26.3%). At the same time, the city's convention business is gaining momentum as a result of Tourism Toronto's increased and targeted sales efforts supported by the Destination Marketing Fee (DMF).Future hotel room night bookings for conventions increased by 14.3% and pending bid decisions for future conventions total more than 32,000 potential delegates.

Growing Toronto's Leisure Travel business
"The new reality of tourism is that we have to work harder and smarter to keep and grow Toronto's share of leisure travel," said Bruce MacMillan,President and CEO of Tourism Toronto. "Visits from border states like NewYork, Ohio and Michigan continue to decline in part because of increased fuel costs for drivers, so we targeted our marketing to air travellers in mid-haulmarkets such as New York City, Washington D.C. and Chicago. The result is that air arrivals from the U.S. are up 9% this year."

"Our plan to diversify the tourist base goes beyond the U.S. border. Withthe continuing challenges of the weak American dollar and misperceptions about U.S. passport requirements, we have stepped up overseas marketing - a strategythat is paying off with significant increases in travellers from all of our targeted overseas markets," said MacMillan.

Other Leisure Travel highlights:
• Helped secure the world exclusive stage production of The Lord of theRings to premiere in Toronto beginning February 2006, supporting tourism through advance ticket sales of more than 20,000 outside theGTA.
• Laid foundation for aggressive marketing in China and anticipate receiving that country's Approved Destination Status for Canada inearly 2006.

Growing Toronto's Convention Business
"Delivering major conventions to Toronto takes intense selling - thereare no shortcuts," said MacMillan. "This year we've had some landmark winslike the Shriners that show Toronto is being considered by international organizations. The DMF that funds our increased marketing is a big reason forthe difference. Now with full-time sales staff in key markets we can competefor - and win - the major U.S. and international meetings and conventions."

Convention Business highlights from 2005:
• Hosted 46,000 attendees for the International Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous - one of the largest conferences held anywhere in the world.
• Won intense international competition to host Shriners 136th Imperial Council Session (20,000 delegates) in 2010.
• Won competition to host (in partnership with Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership), Rendezvous Canada, a Global Industry Trade Show, in April 2006.
• Confirmed future bookings for North American Roller Hockey Championship (5,500 players) in 2006; Annual Scientific Meeting and Union for Reform Judaism General Assembly (7,000 delegates) in 2009.

"Tourism has been dealt a series of difficult blows, most recently bysoaring fuel costs and a weak U.S. dollar," said MacMillan. "But nothing hasweakened the rich and compelling Toronto story as a city with unlimitedpotential and imagination. It's clear that the more aggressively we tell that story, the more people want to come to the Greater Toronto Area."

Tourism Toronto, Toronto's Convention and Visitor Association, is anindustry association of almost 1,000 members established to strategically market the Greater Toronto Region as a remarkable destination for tourists,convention delegates and business travelers around the globe. Tourism Torontoactivities are funded primarily by the Destination Marketing Fee (DMF), a3 per cent fee charged by Greater Toronto Region hotels beginning in 2004 toinvest in marketing member attractions, accommodations, hospitality andservices.

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