America's top beaches for 2011...MasterCard users love Toronto (we think)
Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, AKA Dr. Beach, has released his 2011 top beaches report for American shores. He's listed Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota, Fla. as number one. It's an eight mile-long, crescent-shaped affair on the Gulf of MExico, known for powdery white sand that never gets too hot, even when people on the beach are turning the shade of boiled lobsters.
Here's the rest of his list:
2. Coronado Beach, San Diego
3. Kahanamoku Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
4. Main Beach, East Hampton, New York
5. Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
6. St. George Island, Florida (panhandle)
7. Beachwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina
8. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts (see photo below left)
9. Waimanaio Bay Beach Park, Oahu, Hawaii
For those of you keeping score at home, that's 3 for the Sunshine State, two for Hawaii and a bunch for other spots. Nice he's got some northeastern U.S. locations. Too bad he doesn't franchise out to Canada, though.
INTERNATIONAL VISITORS LOVE TORONTO
I should probably not admit that I don't know what this really means. But there you go; full disclosure.
I got a press release the other day from the folks at MasterCard, which said the top 10 destination cities in North America by international visitors (with MasterCards, of course; the folks at MasterCard don't track Amex users) so far this year was New York,followed by Los Angeles. No big surprise. But they said Toronto was third, and Vancouver 10th.
Toronto third? Ahead of Miami and Chicago and Boston and San Francisco? This surprises me a little, although it's also kind of neat to see as a Torontonian.
What I don't know is whether MasterCard users reflect visitors in general, or if maybe Rob Ford secretly was giving MasterCard holders free Leafs tickets or something. I'm not being entirely facetious; I really have no way of knowing why the numbers would come out like this.
The report said the top cities of origin for international visitors was New York. Second was London, then Chicago, Frankfurt (a big hub for Air Canada and Lufthansa flights) and Los Angeles. Again, that would indicate where people are flying in from, so of course New York and London make sense.
It SOUNDS like good news for Toronto tourism, but judging by the caution we heard at this week's annual general meeting of Tourism Toronto and the concerns about Americans not driving over the border, it probably is wise not too read too much into it.