Condition normal with Air Canada ... Chicago puts on a great show in Toronto
I hate to see workers lose the right to take job action. But, faced with both a potential strike by ground workers AND a potential lockout of pilots on the Monday of March Break, I guess I can see how Labour Minister Lisa Raitt on Thursday opted to put the (air) brakes on.
In case you somehow didn't know, Raitt on Thursday referred both issues to the Canada Industrial Relations Board, thus ending any chance of Monday madness in Canadian skies.
Her move on Thursday came just hours after Air Canada served formal notice it intended to lock out the airline’s 3,000 pilots at 12:01 a.m. Monday, coinciding with the strike date set by the machinists’ union, which includes 8,600 baggage handlers and mechanics. It would've meant chaos during a hugely popular time for travel in Canada, and Raitt said a work stoppage was “unacceptable” because it would threaten to damage the fragile economy and interrupt March Break holiday plans.
So that's one less thing to worry about. The radio this morning had an Air Canada check-in agent at Pearson saying it was business as usual. "Yeah," she said. "People are arriving at Terminal 1 for flights on Delta in Terminal 3 and they're blaming me for it. It's situation normal, all right."
MY KIND OF TOWN, CHICAGO IS
The folks from Chicago were in town on Thursday for an event at The Windsor Arms, telling us how important Toronto and the Canadian market are to them.
"We're really excited to get back in the market," said the executive director of tourism, Cathy Domanico. "It's long overdue."
"That's good for people, but bad for marketing," he said with a grin, explaining how the city is now taking a much more aggressive stance about attracting visitors.
Tourism officials say the city has a wide array of attractions and features, including:
- Thirty ethnic groups of 25,000 people or more
- Three of the top ten hotels in the U.S. and the number one (The Waldorf-Astoria, formerly the Elysian) rated hotel in the country.
- The top rated restaurant in the U.S., Alinea, which also is rated number six in the world.
- Five Tony-Award-winning theatre companies
- 26 miles of shoreline, almost all of it wide open with many great beaches right in town.
Chicago is the birthplace of the skyscraper, with incredible architecture. Not to mention museums, public art, parks, blues and jazz clubs and that fabulous waterfront we wish we had here in Toronto.
We know about Second City, of course, but the theatre scene also is fabulous, said Warren Wilkinson, senior vice president marketing and communications for the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau.
"People ask us where to find the best theatre, and we say 'Go to 42nd St. (in New York), turn left and go 900 miles," Wilkinson said.
Food and drink are huge, of course.
"We have cuisine for the finest palettes, but you also can get a cold beer and deep dish pizza," Wilkinson said.
Domanico said Chicago attracted 39.2 million visitors in 2011 and is hoping for 50 million by 2020. International visitors are the greatest opportunity, with 3.2 million of them last year. And Canada's their biggest hope, being so close and all. And Toronto, of course, is the biggest prize in Canada.
For more information, go to www.choosechicago.com. For information on Illinois, check out www.enjoyillinois.com.
NO SIGNS OF A MEXICO SLOWDOWN?
This item courtesy of the CBC:
A recent slew of violent attacks on tourists in Mexico has done little to derail interest in the country as a favoured travel destination for winter-weary Canadians, a top Mexican tourism official says.
Last year marked a record-breaking year for tourism in Mexico, with 22.67 million international travellers visiting the country, the Mexican tourism board said.
Canada is an important source of visitors, second only to the United States, said Rodolfo Lopez Negrete, chief operating officer of the Mexico Tourism Board.
In 2005, the number of Canadians who travelled to Mexico reached 794,000, and the figure has risen every year since, according to Statistics Canada. Lopez Negrete said the number of Canadian visitors to Mexico is expected to be "scratching the 1.6 million mark" for 2011, more than double the number in 2005 and a record.