Record year for Toronto tourism - maybe tourism folks are onto something?
Nice story in today's Star by Brett Popplewell, a Star exclusive I might add, on how city hotels sold a record 8.93 million rooms last year.
It's impressive when you consider our loonie is at par with the American buck, when you consider the increasing difficulties with passports and all for U.S. folks to come up here, and when you had that small incident called the G-20. Actually, the Tourism Toronto stats show the G-20 was, as I expected, a huge boon to the economy, with something like 80 per cent of hotel rooms occupied during the month.
The city's annual occupancy rate was 68.3 per cent last year, up 9.7 percentage points from a not-so-good 2009. Tourism folks say Toronto was sixth last year in terms of hotel occupancy in North America, and that's pretty impressive. Toronto was 10th in both 2009 and 2008, 13th in 2007 and way back in 16th spot in 2006.
I can't say exactly how we've done it, but it seems to me it's a confluence of factors; great hotels on the rise (already opened ones such as the two Le Germain properties and the Thompson, as well as planned and soon-to-open hotels such as the Ritz Carlton, Shangri-la, Trump and the new Four Seasons), general confidence in Canada's economy and Toronto's business sector, new and interesting architecture, an increasingly vibrant restaurant and bar and music scene. Toss in things like Pride Day and the Film Festival, and you quickly realize this is a pretty happening spot.
I also think Tourism Toronto is very smart to be selling the city to well-heeled travelers, versus making us sound like a discount. We're lots of things, but cheap ain't one of them. Value, though? You bet.
There are a few other factors that are quite interesting in the Tourism Toronto report. The fastest-growing markets for Toronto are India (up 26.5 per cent last year), Brazil (up 25.5 per cent) and China (up 21.9 per cent). Oh, Japan was up 18.3 per cent. Very impressive figures, although it's a smaller base to start with than the American market. WAY SMALLER, as you can see below. And, of course, you can't forget most of our visitors - about two-thirds - DON'T come from overseas but come from other parts of Ontario and other provinces in Canada.
The top international markets for Toronto last year were as follows:
1. U.S. 1,970,000 visitors
2. U.K. 194,000
3. China/Hong Kong 117,000
4. Germany 78,000
5. France, 71,000
6. Japan, 70,000
7. India, 64,000
8. Brazil, 42,000