Toronto looks to new markets after U.S.decline

In response to challenges arising from uncertainty surrounding required travel documents, currency exchange rates, increased competition and low consumer awareness, Tourism Toronto is stepping up marketing efforts with partners in key markets with high-impact campaigns to capitalize on untapped opportunities in the U.S. and abroad. “More than ever we are combining our efforts with key partners like Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation (OTMPC), the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC), City of Toronto and nearby destinations such as Niagara and Ottawa to maximize our reach and results,” said Lyle Hall, Chair of the Tourism Toronto Board of Directors.

“This year, we’re taking things to the next level to raise Toronto’s profile in more markets than ever before,” said Bruce MacMillan, President and CEO of Tourism Toronto, who spoke at the industry association’s annual general meeting today at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The U.S. market is very challenging right now and looming changes to passport rules will certainly intensify the problem. That is why our U.S. marketing campaigns this year aim to re-energize demand in the border states and also reach deeper into the U.S. to new markets,” said MacMillan.

This spring and summer, the Toronto region will be part of a full-colour insert in weekend newspapers in 25 different U.S. markets, reaching over 7 million homes. Toronto’s portion of the initiative, a partnership with OTMPC, Niagara and Ottawa, aims to reignite interest in Toronto as an adventurous, creative destination in the valuable border states, and introduce Toronto in major mid-range markets including Boston, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, among others.

“By combining the strengths of Ontario’s different regions we present an even more compelling destination and help travellers see the wide range of experiences and contrasts that await in Ontario,” said Sandra McInnis, President and CEO, OTMPC.

“Last year was our best year since the 1990’s in the overseas market and with aggressive marketing and sales efforts we can seize even more of these growing markets,” said MacMillan.


Overseas initiatives for 2006 include “subway dominations” this month in Tokyo. Tourism Toronto has partnered with OTMPC, the CTC and a major Japanese tour operator to blanket entire commuter trains with ads for Toronto and other Ontario destinations. Tourism Toronto also recently launched versions of its web site in Japanese, Chinese and Korean that have already garnered nearly 1 million visits. In addition to Asia, Tourism Toronto and its partners are renewing their investment in the widely-successful consumer campaign in the U.K., a market that generated over 300,000 visitors to Toronto in 2005. The campaign will in the spring and fall of 2006 with magazine inserts, national print advertising and radio spots on London’s most popular broadcast outlets.

2005 proved to be a mixed year for tourism in Toronto. While the number of overseas visitors reached 1.6 million, the highest in four years, U.S. visitors declined to 2.8 million, a decrease of 17 per cent since 2001.

“The big opportunity lies in our remarkable product,” said MacMillan. “New and expanded cultural attractions combine with our authentic neighbourhoods and outstanding regional recreation to make the Greater Toronto region an inspiring destination. It’s a strength we exploit around the world.”

Tourism Toronto is an industry association of more than 1,000 members established to strategically market the Greater Toronto Region as a remarkable destination for tourists, convention delegates and business travellers around the globe.