Welcome to the second issue of Tourism Now, our newest way of sharing tourism sales and marketing news with our members and partners. You’ll find listings of some upcoming events across the GTA, major conventions in the weeks ahead, and the latest efforts on your behalf at Tourism Toronto. Watch for Tourism Now every two weeks and let us know what you think via
Mexico Leads Fastest-Growing Visitor Markets to Toronto
International visitors to Toronto have provided important growth in recent years, particularly as the U.S. market remains a challenge. So far in 2008 (through July 31), international arrivals to Ontario are up 3.6 per cent over last year. The strongest growth is coming from Mexico, where Tourism Toronto has been active with media and sales efforts for two years. Earlier this year, Toronto was featured on one of the most popular Mexican soap operas, reaching more than 4 million viewers. China and South Korea also continue to show strong growth and are priority sales markets for Tourism Toronto. The growth of 5.4 per cent in Germany is encouraging because it has been a declining market for the past three years.

Top 5 Fastest-Growing International (non-U.S.) Countries by Arrivals to Ontario
Country 2008 Visitors
(through July 31)
Change over 2007
Mexico 71,295 +14.6%
China 32,997 +12.6%
India 38,107 +12.1%
South Korea 44,952 +10.3%
Germany 67,435 +5.4%

Source: Statistics Canada

Partnering Pays Off
To drive more tourism, Tourism Toronto, Ontario Tourism, GTAA and Air Canada ("TOGA" to its friends) have banded together to create a joint marketing campaign that to date has resulted in 144,367 click-throughs to The specially created website features a direct booking form for Toronto-area hotel packages as well as flights to Toronto Pearson airport. By advertising on prominent websites, including TripAdvisor and VirtualTourist, the campaign reaches consumers while they are actively considering and planning a trip.

In addition to the increased web traffic, to date, TOGA has seen positive results to average room night bookings (3-5 nights), revenue (over $2.8 million - inclusive of TT and AC bookings) and return on investment ($7.16 in transportation spend per $1.00 spent). The current online campaign is scheduled to run until the end of the year.

Toronto Lights Up the Today Show
A feature on Toronto as a holiday destination aired on the Today Show on October 1. The result of TT Media Relations efforts, the feature with Al Roker reached an estimated audience of 5,267,000 viewers, representing ad value of $95,400. This is part of an ongoing marketing and media strategy to position Toronto as one of North America’s top holiday destinations for shopping and entertainment. A clip of the segment may be viewed here.

TT’s Holiday Campaign Gets Gold
At the 2008 Ontario Tourism Awards presentation during the recent OTMPC Summit, our 2007 Holiday Campaign won the Gold Award for Best Interactive Tourism Marketing. We received a flood of positive reaction to the campaign from members, partners and Torontonians, as web visitors increased by 79 per cent versus the same time period in 2006. This award further confirms the success of the efforts in capturing the very special character of the city at holiday time. As well, in December 2007, we saw the highest hotel occupancy rate in over a decade. We look forward to reinforcing this city as a magical holiday destination with the 2008 campaign.

First Performance Festival of Its Kind Coming to Toronto
Tourism Toronto's Meetings Conventions & Incentive Travel (MC&IT) regional team has confirmed Atlantic Band Festival Inc.’s intention to hold its first Toronto International Band and Orchestra Festival in the GTA in May 2010. The event is expected to generate 1,875 room nights in its first year and is a valuable win for regional partners. This festival is a result of MC&IT's new initiative to source out potential North American festival and event operator companies and sell the GTA as a new destination for their performance events.

Toronto’s Pan Am Games Bid Off and Running
Toronto and Southern Ontario's bid to host the 2015 Pan Am Games was officially announced earlier this month with former Toronto Star publisher Jagoda Pike named as the bid's President and CEO, joining bid Chair David Peterson. Tourism Toronto will be working in partnership with the Province of Ontario and the Pan American Bid Leadership Group to help bring the games to the region. The bid team made its preliminary bid presentation to the Pan American Sports Organization last week in Acapulco, Mexico.

Canadian Association Business Continues Growth Via TT’s Ottawa Office
In August 2008, five Tourism Toronto members and key staff participated in another successful sales mission in Ottawa. With two days of sales calls, a golf tournament with Meeting Planners International and a client event, over 45 key clients were prospected for future business in Toronto. With Ottawa already tracking at 170 per cent of its goal, the five key leads that came from this mission, totaling over 4,000 room nights, make this an exceptional initiative.

The Canadian Association of Association Executives (CSAE) just finished its 2008 annual meeting in Vancouver and with active participation from 16 of our members, Toronto is outshining the competition. As Toronto prepares to host CSAE in 2009, the buzz spread throughout the conference in Vancouver as one not to miss for 2009. Toronto continues to compete at the top of the list for key Canadian association business and enjoys strong performance from its members at every Canadian mission and event.

Chinese "Fam" Trips
Tourism Toronto worked with the OTMPC and CTC's China office to bring the celebrity couple, Olympic ice skating champions Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo to Toronto, along with two dozen other couples, for a major televised special in China. The couples were accompanied by an entourage of print and internet media. The visit was part of a year-long online campaign to raise awareness of Canada as a premier tourism destination for the sophisticated Chinese traveller.

In addition to the media exposure, TT hosted eight tour operators from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong last week. They visited major attractions in the city and conducted three hotel inspections during their whirlwind stay in our city.

MC&IT Gets Sporty
TT's regional sales team brought 19 members to the Sports Alliance Ontario tradeshow in September where 300 sports event planners met. The day produced seven leads and 1,450 potential room nights and is another inroad to this important market segment.

Quebec Teachers Learn About Toronto
In line with our ongoing efforts to target the student and youth (S&Y) market, fifty teachers selected by a key Quebec-based S&Y tour operator participated in a familiarization tour in late September. As a result of the visit, which showcased our members' S&Y product, so far three teachers have confirmed they will be proposing class trips to Toronto for this fall and additional groups for the spring of 2009. Continued follow-up will lead to more school business for the GTA.

Windy City Gets Wooed on Two Fronts
An article and companion blog item for the Chicago Sun-Times highlighted Toronto's multicultural history and flavour and featured a few of the city's picturesque neighbourhoods and friendly locals. With a circulation of 312,274, representing ad value of $34,560, this is significant coverage that assists in TT's efforts to sell the city.

At the Professional Convention Management Association meeting on September 16, TT's U.S. Association Sales team met with over 250 Chicago-based meeting planners and suppliers. This was a valuable opportunity to reinforce Toronto's position as an accessible yet cosmopolitan destination for U.S. associations, many of whom have national head offices in Chicago and the mid-west.

Orbitz Customers Think Toronto Hotels Are the Best
A special note of congratulations to two Toronto hotels for being singled out by Orbitz customers. The Sheraton Centre Toronto was chosen as the 2008 Orbitz Best in Stay hotel for both leisure and couple travellers and the Delta Chelsea Hotel was chosen as the 2008 Orbitz Best in Stay hotel for business travellers. Orbitz Best in Stay award winners are selected based on the overall numeric score they received from Orbitz travellers. Orbitz is a leading online travel company with nearly 22 million monthly unique visitors.

Argentina Looks North
In keeping with TT's strategy to target the growing Latin American market, the Media Relations team hosted a group of high-profile media from Argentina in early October. Journalists representing several major broadcast, print and online media outlets enjoyed an introduction to Toronto and surrounding areas, including Niagara and Vaughan, and were in town to experience the arts and culture night crawl of Nuit Blanche, showcasing Toronto as a sophisticated destination.

Toronto Indy Picked Up by ABC
ABC announced last week that Honda Indy Toronto will be broadcast nationally in the U.S. on its network next year. This puts Toronto’s race in elite company, as only five races have been selected for national broadcast by ABC, which reaches on average 3 million viewers during each of their Indy Racing League broadcasts. For the first time, the race will also be broadcast in high definition.

Quebec Welcomes TT
140 tour operators will attend Bienvenue Quebec on October 28–30 and TT’s Leisure Trade team will be there for pre-scheduled appointments to talk up Toronto. Members who are unable to attend the tradeshow have the opportunity to participate via our Association Representation Program and can contact Joseph O’Neill at for details. For information on Bienvenue Quebec, visit

OMEA Meets November 6-8 in Airport Area
Ontario Music Educators' Association 2008 Conference will attract over 450 music educators and performance group organizers and the MC&IT regional team will attend to pursue leads in this key segment.

Upcoming Meetings & Conventions (1000+ Delegates)

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

Help Us Promote You
TT gets numerous requests for photos of the city from journalists, editors and web designers. Help us stock our photo bank and promote our members’ scenic locations around the city and regions by sending us your most inspiring images. Email high resolution JPG and EPS files to Audree Atendido in Creative Services or mail a CD-ROM of images to:
Tourism Toronto
405 - 207 Queens Quay West
Toronto, Ontario
M5J 1A7

Mix, Mingle & Learn: Fall Networking Event
There’s still time to get in on this very popular member networking and business update event. Tourism Toronto will present its Business Plan and goals for 2009 and review 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. Registration has been extended to October 16 via the member website. We look forward to seeing you on October 21.

Save the Date for Holiday Fun
Please save December 3 for our member holiday gathering at the MTCC. Details to come!

Keep Your Information Fresh
Your online description is what visitors, tour operators, meeting planners and media see when considering which Tourism Toronto products and services to engage. Use your member access password to keep your listings up-to-date and to the point. If you’ve forgotten your password, please contact Denise Belgrove or Nicole Webster in Member Care.

In With the In Crowd
In the past month alone over 50 new members have joined the TT ranks. To see the list of other great members who belong, click here.

Toronto Families Appreciate Your Help
Tourism Toronto’s new Relax, Recharge & Renew program, under our Corporate Social Responsibility umbrella, gives local parent heroes a much-deserved break including two nights in a GTA hotel, dinners and passes to attractions. So far more than 50 Tourism Toronto members have provided elements of the weekend packages. The program has been underway for a few weeks and we are starting to hear back from the families who are benefiting. Here is what they are saying:

"I’ve been sleeping on either a couch or an air mattress for as long as I can remember," said Marlene McGroarty, mother of 9-and-a-half-year-old Jamie, who has autism. "So one of the best things about our stay at the Westin Harbour Castle was being able to sleep in a comfortable bed!"

Marlene went on to say that the weekend just flew by as she and her husband and other son, Johnny, enjoyed breakfast and swimming at the hotel, the atmosphere and food at the Old Spaghetti Factory and Joe Badali's, and a night of intrigue at Mysteriously Yours dinner theatre. "It was nice to be able to just do regular things, like regular families," said Marlene. "When we’re with Jamie we’re totally focussed on his needs, so it was great to be able to just think of something else for a few hours. I’m lucky that I have a mother and husband to help me out. I can’t imagine how the single moms cope."

We have many single moms and families who are looking forward to their weekend to recharge. To find out more about this program and how you can help, please contact Tom Griffin at
Tourism Toronto: Toronto Convention & Visitors Association
Oct 3-Nov 1
Halloween Haunt
Canada's Wonderland

Oct 16-19
Toronto Ski, Snowboard & Travel Show
Direct Energy Centre

Oct 17-19
Creativ Festival

Oct 18-26
Boo at the Zoo
Toronto Zoo

Oct 19
The Toronto Marathon

Oct 22-Nov 1
Intl. Festival of Authors

Oct 24
Spirit of the West
Living Arts Centre

Oct 24-31
Church-Wellesley Village

Oct 25
Oktoberfest 2008
Hershey Centre

Oct 25
Molly Johnson
Massey Hall

Oct 25
Children's Diwali Celebration
Swaminarayan Mandir, Mississauga

Oct 26
Halloween on Main Street

Oct 26
Tricks or Treats: Historic Halloween Fun
Benares Historic House

For a complete listing of events please go to our online events calendar.
"I have been to this city (Toronto) five times and this fifth visit has been wonderful. I have gone shopping, been out to dinners, and went to the Roy Thomson Hall, a spectacular facility. This city has first-rate attractions and theatre that I love."

— Actress Rachel Weisz commenting in Reforma, a Mexican national daily newspaper


DID YOU KNOW that when the Winter Garden Theatre was being restored after some 60 years of disuse, the restorers found that the best substance for removing grime from the hand-painted walls, without destroying the paint, was bread dough? Fifteen hundred pounds of flour was used to clean 20,000 square feet of walls. (Yet another reason to love carbs.)
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

Tourism Toronto is located at 207 Queens Quay West, Toronto, Ontario, M5J 1A7.