CITY WORKERS TENTATIVE DEAL FIRST STEP FOR TOURISM...
Okay, there's a tentative city of Toronto deal to end the civic workers' strike. That's great news. But there's tons of work to do to restore the city's battered public relations image.
When Mayor David Miller went on CNN recently to tell everyone it was situation normal in Toronto, he might have been speaking the truth, although parents who had their kids' summer programs cancelled would strongly disagree. Anyway, the point is that no matter hizzoner had to say to the American networks, the overall image was still that trashy Toronto was in trouble.
Things are bad enough in the local tourism industry without a city strike adding to their woes. As if the situation wasn't bad enough, along came the VIA strike on the weekend, which left hundreds of American and other foreign tourists stranded.
We simply can't afford these kinds of setbacks if hotel workers and restaurant folks are gonna stay in business.
Yes, VIA has come up with 60 per cent off deals for bookings made by Wednesday night. That brings Toronto to Ottawa ticket to something like $100; pretty good.
Sadly, however, the American passport issue has put a kybosh to many U.S. residents' potential plans to visit the true north strong and free. And there's also the strength of the Canadian dollar, which is a huge disincentive for Buffalonians and Rochesterites to drive over the Niagara River.
Things might get better. But it's gonna take a long time, no matter how cheery the pronouncements made about economic recovery by the guys in fancy suits in Ottawa.
How's this for an idea? If VIA can slash fares to restore consumer confidence, how about if governments in general allowed a tax break for hard-hit residents - and visitors? How about for the rest of the summer we waive taxes on hotel stays or restaurant meals? How about allowing happy hours at Toronto bars until Labour Day?
Naw, that makes too much sense.
PERFECT PITA FOR PUTTERS?
Took a day off from the office to come down and check out the RBC Canadian Open at soggy Glen Abbey in Oakville. Mind you, it's sunny and dry today and things are proceeding nicely, with Retief Goosen off to an early lead and the fourth round actually underway.
As I rode the bus from the media parking lot to the course, a guy told me he had stopped at a place on Upper Middle Drive (is there a Lower Middle Drive, by the way, or a Middle Middle Drive?) called Extreme Pita and that there was a photo on the wall of the owner/manager with star PGA Tour player Anthony Kim.
It seems Kim has stopped in for a pita three times this week. Must be working, as he was right near the top of the leaderboard early in the fourth round.
Speaking of pitas and wraps and golf, I played 18 holes at the Rock golf course up in Muskoka on Saturday. The course, part of the Red Leaves development I wrote about in a story posted at thestar.com/travel today, was in good shape and it's only $99; a far cry from what others in the neighborhood are charging. It's a smart deal and the place was packed.
But at 11:15 a.m.on Saturday the main restaurant only had one type of sandwich available; a BLT wrap. It took them nearly 10 minutes to make a tuna wrap for a buddy of mine. And that doesn't make much sense. 11 a.m. is hardly a novel time for a golfer to want a sandwich. Maybe they were available from the cart girls, but having a few sandwiches on hand at the clubhouse might be a nice improvement, folks.