Toronto no ghost town yet...but it's beginning to look like it will be with G20 here
I had to snicker when I saw a story in the Globe and Mail on Saturday that suggested downtown Toronto was already beginning to resemble a ghost town. What a load of nonsense.
To my eyes, nothing has changed. But it's clear that it's about to. And to a degree that tourism folks may not have anticipated - or wanted.
Instead of being something to boost tourism, I'm wondering just what the point of this exercise is. It was one thing to have a few roads close. And the CN Tower for a couple days. But then the Blue Jays had to move a series against former star Roy Halladay and the Philadelphia Phillies to Pennsylvania. Then Mirvish said it would close down some of its shows up on King St. And now, today, Star reporter Raju Mudhar reports the Art Gallery of Ontario - a definite tourist hot-spot - will shutter its doors at 4 p.m. on Friday, June 25 and remain closed all day Saturday and Sunday.
It's getting completely out of hand, people, and you have to wonder whether it's worth it. And that's not even counting the $1 billion security bill.
I honestly don't think Toronto will get much benefit from the weekend. If there's any publicity of a major kind in the major U.S. markets, it will likely be only if there are riots.
Other than that, we'll probably just get a few headlines. The summit doesn't appear to be as big as others, and it's not like the television folks will be beaming back wonderful pictures of the city. Maybe some nice barbed wire photos, but likely not people having beers out on a Queen St. patio.
The Olympics in Vancouver had a billion dollar security budget, but they got a huge benefit in terms of television exposure. Not so Toronto for the G20, methinks.
It's a tall order, and forgive me the terrible pun, but some folks are hoping the visit of the Tall Ships during the Redpath Toronto Waterfront Festival June 30-July 4 will help. For more information, go to TOwaterfrontfest.com.
iPAD REPLACES MENUSHere's a cool item. A restaurant in North Sydney, Australia, has dumped its printed menus in exchange for iPads.
According to a story in the Australian, Global Mundo Tapas in the North Sydney Rydges Hotel "introduced a custom-made iPad application which allows customers to browse the virtual pages of the menu with a sweep of their finger."
Diners can check out dishes and see a picture of what the meal looks like, plus get tasting notes. Once they make their decision they send it wirelessly to the kitchen, which certainly beats trying to wave down the wait staff. Not sure what wine to order? The iPad has recommendations on what will go best with your shrimp crustini or what have you.
The iPad also will let you tell the kitchen how you want your meat cooked and what sauce you might prefer. Sounds like fun to me, although I'd worry about theft and breakage if I was the restaurant.VIRGIN COSTS FROM TORONTO
I got a note from a friend at the Star on the weekend, asking if I knew much about Virgin's coming service from Toronto to San Francisco. I said I didn't but that my sister has flown Virgin from SF to Washington D.C. and raves about it.
Then, today, I spotted something on LFPress saying that Virgin America chief executive David Cush was talking recently about how his fares on the Toronto-SF flight are higher than he'd like because of the high costs associated with flying out of Pearson.Virgin America will start flights from Toronto to San Francisco and Los Angeles later this month; its first foray outside the U.S.
"Pearson in 2005 was named the most expensive airport in the world because of the high landing fees and other costs charged to airlines. Since then the airport has worked to bring down expenses, cutting costs for the past three years running," the LFPress report read.
"Since 2007, landing fees have come down by 13.1% and terminal charges by 15%, according to the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, which manages Pearson. This has meant savings of about $108 million to airlines, it says. Still, the cost of a ticket to San Francisco will cost about $210 each way, compared with roughly $140 from New York¹s JFK airport to the same destination, Cush said."
That's a huge difference; about $140 on a return flight.
Air and Business Travel News is reporting good news today. The website said airlines "are expected to return to profit sooner than thought, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), but European carriers are still lagging a long way behind."
"In a stark turnaround, IATA has changed its forecast for airline performance in 2010 from a global loss of $2.8 billion to a profit of $2.5 billion. If delivered, it will be the industry's first profit since 2007.
Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's CEO, said: "The global economy is recovering from the depths of the financial crisis much more quickly than could have been anticipated.
"We thought it would take at least three years to recover the $81 billion (14.3%) drop in revenues in 2009. But the %62 billion top line improvement this year puts us about 75% on the way to pre-crisis levels."
Airlines in Asia are predicted to perform the best this year, predicted IATA, with a profit of $2.2 billion. North American carriers are also expected to post a profit, of $1.9 billion, a major turnaround on the $2.7 billion lost in 2009."