On behalf of all of us at Tourism Toronto including our Board of Directors, our various Committees and the many partners we collaborate with including our Members, let me take this opportunity to welcome you to our first issue of Tourism Now - our newest way of sharing updates, trends, sales and marketing news and more. In the coming editions you will find listings of upcoming events across the GTA, major upcoming conventions and the latest efforts on your behalf at Tourism Toronto. So we hope you watch for Tourism Now published bi-weekly. We welcome your comments. Email us at with your thoughts and suggestions.

And as always, thanks for your continued support and cooperation.

David Whitaker
President & CEO
Tourism Toronto

Toronto Shows Resilience in Tough Tourism Market
So far in 2008 an ongoing survey conducted by Smith Travel Research (through the end of August) reveals that occupancy levels reported by participating hotels have remained stable with a year-to-date growth of 0.6 per cent. Indicative of the challenges faced throughout North America's top destinations, only six (6) cities reported growth while 22 of the top 28 destinations have experienced declines in occupancy. The 68.6 per cent occupancy generated by Toronto has helped move the GTA up to 12th overall through the end of August. The charts below reflect Toronto's improving position in the marketplace.

Smith Travel Research - Occupancy January - August
City 2007 2008 Change 2007 Rank 2008 Rank
New York 82.5% 83.0% 0.6% 1 1
Oahu Island 77.6% 77.4% -0.3% 2 2
San Franciso/San Mateo 74.7% 76.7% 2.7% 6 3
Miami 74.5% 75.1% 0.8% 8 4
Los Angeles-Long Beach 76.8% 74.7% -2.7% 3 5
San Diego 75.7% 74.6% -1.6% 4 6
Vancouver 74.5% 73.7% -1.1% 7 7
Anaheim-Santa Ana 75.4% 73.2% -2.9% 5 8
Seattle 73.1% 71.5% -2.2% 9 9
Orlando 72.0% 71.1% -1.2% 10 10
Washington 70.7% 70.0% -1.0% 11 11
TORONTO 68.2% 68.6% 0.6% 14 12
Boston 67.8% 67.8% 0.0% 16 13
Philadelphia 70.5% 66.9% -5.0% 12 14
Denver 65.5% 66.7% -1.1% 18 15

Smith Travel Research Ranked by Growth January - August
City Change Rank
New Orleans 11.8% 1
San Francisco/San Mateo 2.7% 2
Miami 0.8% 3
New York 0.6% 4
TORONTO 0.6% 5
Boston 0.0% 6
Oahu Island -0.3% 7
Washington -1.0% 8
Denver -1.1% 9
Vancouver -1.1% 10
Orlando -1.2% 11
San Diego -1.6% 12
Seattle -2.2% 13
Houston -2.2% 14
Dallas -2.3% 15

The syndicated U.S. entertainment show Extra!, with a weekly audience of more than 3 million viewers, featured a full half hour devoted entirely to Toronto's appeal. The Toronto feature showcased the hot spots to see and be seen in Toronto, helping create more buzz and excitement about Toronto as a top cosmopolitan destination. It aired in mid-September throughout the U.S. and Canada, including coveted prime-time slots in Los Angeles and New York. The Toronto feature on Extra! has estimated media value of more than $1 million.

MC&IT Ahead of Target
The Meetings Conventions & Incentive Travel team is pacing ahead of target at 81 per cent or 401,000 total definite room nights in future business. The team has confirmed 11 of its goal of 15 citywide meetings, representing 148,000 total room nights or 78 per cent of the 2008 citywide goal. Of significant note, the American Public Works Association has selected Toronto as host to its 2014 International Public Works Congress & Exposition to occur over the dates of August 13-21, 2014. The meeting will bring over 5,500 delegates and result in more than 11.6 million in direct spending in Toronto. Continuing our sales efforts in the U.S. corporate sector alongside the MTCC and hotel partners, it is with great enthusiasm that we share with the community that IBM Corporation has selected Toronto to host its May 14-22, 2009, citywide representing a total of 8,800 room nights. This latest win brings another large American group to Toronto during a need period in 2009.

New Consumer Website Makes Toronto Easier to Explore Online
Tourism Toronto launched a new consumer website this week to make it easier to research a trip to Toronto and to convert more web visits into actual visitors. The site is more action-oriented and consumer friendly and designed to rank higher in search engines. New features of the site include improved mapping and calendars, more exposure for member content, and more intuitive ways to book packages directly through the site. We invite you to visit the new site and share your feedback.

Indy Racing Returns to Toronto in July 2009
With a new name and new ownership, the Honda Indy Toronto was announced for July 10-12, 2009. Featuring a full weekend of racing events and entertainment, the revived race marks the return of a major Toronto event to the summer calendar. Tourism Toronto and the Greater Toronto Hotel Association, along with the City of Toronto and Exhibition Place and the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, worked closely with new race owners Andretti Green Racing to bring about a new deal that will keep the race in Toronto for years to come.

New "Field Guide" Promotes Diverse Experiences of Mississauga - West Toronto
A new West Region Field Guide is being distributed at hotels in Mississauga and the Airport Area to raise travellers' awareness of the many different experiences in those areas - festivals, shopping, neighbourhoods and entertainment. The guide is produced by the TT Marketing Department for concierge staff who are using the inspirational piece to make recommendations to guests about what there is to see and do in the area and handing it out to guests who are in town for business to encourage them to return for a leisure visit. The guide can be viewed here.

Team Toronto Returns From Meeting 1,200+ Influential Association Executives at ASAE
Toronto made a splash at the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) annual meeting in San Diego - one of the most important events of the year for developing sales leads for conventions. Tourism Toronto sales staff joined 13 member partners in hosting more than 1,000 high-value meeting planners in Toronto's now-famous "Imaginarium" hospitality suite. A further 201 qualified clients, representing more than 800,000 room nights in prospective business, visited the Toronto booth on the trade show floor. With Toronto set to host this influential annual meeting next year, this year's efforts not only developed valuable new sales leads but also helped ensure high attendance when these planners meet in Toronto in August 2009.

TT Showcases Members to Quebec-Based Tour Operators
In line with our ongoing efforts to target the student and youth (S&Y) market, Tourism Toronto, in partnership with nine members, met with six key Quebec-based S&Y tour operators during a two-day sales mission. Members had the opportunity to present their S&Y product to these trade clients for inclusion in future Toronto programs, as Canadian S&Y travel remains an important growth opportunity for our destination.

Toronto Featured on China Travel Channel
Tourism Toronto recently hosted a TV crew from the China Travel Channel, resulting in a series of travel stories on the city being broadcast throughout China. Thus far, the "Outdoor Adventure Show" featured Toronto in four episodes, with an estimated combined audience of 170 million viewers, and another four episodes featuring Toronto as a shopping destination will air in the coming months to an audience of 180 million Chinese viewers. As Canadian destinations are not allowed to advertise in China, these types of public relations activities are critical to growing awareness in this priority market.

Guys Do Toronto
TT's media team hosted a group of eight U.K. writers to experience one of North America's liveliest cities the way only men can. The four-day press tour featured highlights of the ideal (within the limits of the law!) city break for men looking for an exciting weekend getaway, including: spending an evening with some fresh Cubans at La Casa Del Habano's cigar lounge, a Blue Jays game at Rogers Centre, a Toronto FC game at BMO Field, and visits to some of our finest nightclubs. So far, the press trip has resulted in 10 feature articles in London, Liverpool, Newcastle, Manchester and Aberdeen for a combined audience reach of 1,778,864 readers and media value of approximately $196,000.

TT Highlights Product to AAA Buffalo
The TT Leisure Trade Department, in partnership with the AAA of Western and Central New York, recently staged a product marketplace at the AAA's largest upstate NY office to showcase Toronto product offerings currently sold through some 100 AAA travel counselors. Thirty-six Tourism Toronto members were profiled as part of our ongoing strategy to keep key border state clients up-to-date with Toronto product.

TripAdvisor Names Toronto a Top Urban Getaway
Toronto moves up to third among the World's Top Ten Urban Getaways according to a new ranking by TripAdvisor! "One of Canada's best kept secrets, Toronto is on par with New York City, San Francisco and Chicago when it comes to cultural attractions and urban endeavors." TripAdvisor, the world's largest travel community, attracts nearly 25 million monthly visitors.

Setting the Foundation for Growth From Latin America
In line with our long-term strategy to grow both leisure and business travel from South America, TT was a first-time exhibitor at La Cumbre, an industry tradeshow bringing tour operators and media from South America together with tourism industry suppliers. Some 600 buyers, 230 suppliers/exhibitors and 70 media affiliates from across the Americas were in attendance in Miami in early September. During the timed appointment marketplace, sales staff met with trade and media contacts from Brazil and Argentina as well as other South American countries to introduce Toronto product offerings for inclusion in future tour and FIT programs.

Mexico Gets to Know Toronto and Canada
In our ongoing efforts directed at increasing business from Mexico, TT participated in Conozca Canada, the Canadian Tourism Commission-sponsored trade event for tourism partnerships interested in the Mexican inbound market. The tradeshow took place September 9-12 at the Crowne Plaza, Mexico City where sales and PR staff from Tourism Toronto met with key trade and media clients during the timed appointment marketplace sessions, to position Toronto for 2009 travel programs. Mexico remains a fast growing market for Toronto with a 30 per cent increase over the past five years.

National Geographic Loves Toronto
National Geographic's Traveler magazine, both print and online, featured a multi-faceted look at Toronto for their "City Life" series. The features include a 48 Hours in Toronto article and insider tips on culture, walking tours, recipes (e.g. butter tarts and Bloody Caesars, presumably not to be consumed together) and books and films about the city. TT's media team worked with the writer and several local partners to help shape the story to show Toronto as a vibrant urban destination.

Asia Gets Familiar
A "fam" tour of Toronto saw 11 Asian inbound operators introduced to member product options for inclusion in future independent travel and tour programs. The tour was part of a broader roundtable where inbound operators from Japan, Korea and China gave updates on business conditions in their markets to 35 TT members who attended the session.

12th Annual Student & Youth Travel Association (SYTA) Conference
Approximately 100 tour operators who market tour programs locally, nationally and internationally attended the SYTA conference in San Antonio Texas, in September to meet with individual destinations. Twenty Tourism Toronto members attended the conference along with the TT sales team, and a further 18 members participated in the sales effort through our Leisure Trade Association Representation Program. The SYTA conference offers delegates excellent business and network opportunities with key student and youth tour operators.

Holiday Marketing Campaign Set to Grow Traffic During Key Season
As part of a multi-year strategy to increase visits to Toronto during the holiday season and to help define us as the shopping and entertainment capital of the region, a new marketing campaign will hit the streets in early November. Last year the Holiday Campaign generated more than 110,000 web visits from potential customers researching visits to the GTA in November and December, and this year we expect to surpass that volume. To receive potential leads from this year's holiday web traffic, hotels should update their B&B rates on our website and all members should make sure their listings reflect the most current information relevant to a holiday-season traveller. Click here to update rates and listings.

Leisure Trade Team Participating in OMCA Annual Conference
Ontario Motor Coach Association is holding its annual conference and marketplace at the Doubletree by Hilton, Toronto Airport, October 19-22, 2008. TT sales staff and participating members will have access to more than 100 tour operators, primarily from Ontario, who market tour programs locally, nationally and internationally. Tourism Toronto members who are unable to attend the conference and tradeshow have the opportunity to participate via TT's Leisure Trade Association Representation Program and can contact Joseph O'Neill for details.

Toronto FIT Culinary Product in Development
In our ongoing efforts to deliver business to TT members, the Leisure Trade Department is developing an inventory of high-end culinary experiences available in Toronto for potential inclusion in future tour operator programs. This information will be a valuable resource for tour operators to use when planning culinary tour programs that offer their clients a unique or enhanced dining experience in Toronto. If you feature high-end culinary product and are interested in this product development initiative, please contact Brian Graziano at

Upcoming Meetings & Conventions (1000+ Delegates)

Meeting/Group Name Dates Attendees
North American Spine Society Oct 11-21 7,000
Art of Living Foundation - Mind, Body & Soul Experience Oct 17-19 4,000
International Council of Shopping Centres Oct 24-31 2,100
ASAP: Autism 2008 - Geneva Centre for Autism International Symposium Oct 22-24 2,000
American Society for Histocompatability & Immunogenetics Oct 24-Nov 2 1,000
Canadian Cardiovascular Society Oct 25-29 3,000

Mix, Mingle & Learn: Fall Networking Event
Join Tourism Toronto members and staff at our quarterly business update and networking reception on October 21 at 4:00 p.m. The last two updates have each drawn more than 500 people. Tourism Toronto will present its Business Plan for 2009, looking at strategic priorities and opportunities for members to participate in sales and marketing initiatives. After the presentation, enjoy the hospitality of the Park Hyatt Toronto for the networking session. Please register via the member website. We look forward to seeing you there.

Member Spotlight
Member Spotlights are a great opportunity for members to brief Tourism Toronto staff about their service, product or facility. Would you like to present your products and services at a Member Spotlight? Contact Nicole Webster at or 416-203-3809 for more information or to schedule.

Golfers Raise Over $6500
The annual TT golf tournament saw 200 members and staff chipping and driving their way around The Club at Bond Head on September 5. Due to the generous support from our members who stepped up with donations and sponsorship, $6,570.00 was raised for the Tourism Toronto scholarship program, which assists students in 10 different college and university tourism programs.

Member-to-Member Offers
Segway of Ontario is pleased to offer Tourism Toronto members 20 per cent off their Segway spin 30-minute tour. Click here for details on this and other member-to-member offers. If you would like to offer a service or product to your fellow members, contact Nicole Webster at in Member Care.

Toronto Supports Local Parent Heroes
Tourism Toronto, through its Industry Relations Committee, launched a new program under the umbrella of its Corporate Social Responsibility mandate. Relax, Renew & Recharge provides three-day getaways for parents of children with severe special needs. Children with significant needs often require 24-hour attention from caregivers, so while it is a loving undertaking, it can be an overwhelming one for parents. Through the new Relax, Renew & Recharge program, Tourism Toronto and local businesses provide a weekend of warm Toronto hospitality to parents who really deserve a break. While their children are in provincially-funded respite care for the weekend, two sets of parents every weekend will stay in a GTA hotel, enjoy a theatre or sporting event, nearby attractions and meals at participating restaurants in the community.

Many members have generously supported this important program already, and in order to sustain it, Tourism Toronto is encouraging members to participate with contributions. Your in-kind donation (e.g. meal or hotel voucher, gift certificate, tickets) will make a world of difference for some of Toronto's most extraordinary families. Please contact Tom Griffin at if you have any questions or can help with a donation.
In the Ontario government's recent cabinet reorganization, the Honourable Monique Smith was named Ontario's new Minister of Tourism. Ms. Smith was previously Minister of Revenue and represents the riding of Nipissing, which includes her home town of North Bay. Former Minister of Tourism, Hon. Peter Fonseca, was named the new Minister of Labour.

Tourism Toronto congratulates and thanks Armin Schroecker, General Manager and Regional Director for Hilton Canada. Mr. Schroecker announced his departure from the company effective September 30. After more than thirty years, the last four-and-a-half in Toronto, Mr. Schroecker expressed his "heartfelt thanks for the support."
Tourism Toronto: Toronto Convention & Visitors Association
Oct 3
Opening! The Sound of Music

Oct 4
Nuit Blanche

Oct 10-13
International Home Show
International Centre

Oct 13
Unionville Little Oktoberfest
Main Street, Unionville

Oct 19
The Toronto Marathon

Oct 17-19
Creativ Festival

Oct 22-26
Intl. Environmental Film & Video Fest

Oct 22-Nov 1
Intl. Festival of Authors

Oct 24-31
Church-Wellesley Village

Oct 25
Children's Diwali Celebration
Swaminarayan Mandir, Mississauga
With a new opera house, a recent Daniel Libeskind addition to the Royal Ontario Museum and one of the best film festivals around, Toronto's status as a cultural capital is all but official. In fact, it's warm enough to enjoy the bustling boardwalk along Toronto's lakefront and to window-shop in the eclectic Kensington Market district.

— From "Places to Go for Fall Value" Sherman's Travel


DID YOU KNOW that Maple Leaf Gardens was the venue for performances of the visiting Metropolitan Opera from 1952-60? The Gardens will play host to voices of a different type during this year's Nuit Blanche.
We want to hear your feedback on this newsletter. Email us at with your thoughts and suggestions.

Tourism Toronto is the sales and marketing organization for Greater Toronto's diverse and compelling tourism experiences, representing 1,200 member businesses. Visit us at