Toronto set new records in tourism by welcoming 14.3 million overnight visitors in 2014, Tourism Toronto announced today. Key drivers were a fourth consecutive year of growth in visitors from the U.S. and the highest number of overseas visitors ever in the destination. Additionally, Toronto led the country in hotel occupancy and hotel room nights sold.
“The world is continuing to take notice of Toronto’s emergence as an exciting leisure travel and meetings hot spot,” said David Whitaker, President and CEO of Tourism Toronto. “This is a sophisticated city with a growing reputation and people want to come see for themselves what all the buzz is about. Our marketing strategy focuses on high-value visitors from major U.S. cities and key overseas markets such as the U.K., Germany, China, Japan and Brazil.”
In 2014, 2.3 million Americans arrived in the destination for an overnight stay, which is a 3.7 per cent increase over 2013. In addition, the U.S. visitor profile continues to shift toward travellers from key American cities that are likely to fly to Toronto, stay longer and spend more. Americans who flew to Toronto accounted for 64 per cent of total U.S. visitors in 2014.
For the first time, China became the top overseas market (all countries other than Canada and the U.S.), with 230,485 visitors representing a 27 per cent increase over 2013. China surpassed the U.K. which had 217,232 visitors (up 8 per cent in 2014). Other top markets include India (94,742, +22 per cent), Japan (87,468, +28 per cent) and Germany (85,080, +12 per cent).
The record number of hotel room nights sold in the Toronto region in 2014 was 9.45 million, and translated to 71.4 per cent hotel occupancy in 2014. Both of these figures were the highest of all major cities in Canada.
“In just two years we have generated 444,000 more hotel room night stays toward our five-year goal of a million,” said Terry Mundell, President and CEO of the Greater Toronto Hotel Association. “More room nights are not only good for hotels and their employees, but equate to more visitor spending in our community.”
Total visitor spending, including same-day trips, was $6.9 billion in the Toronto region across a range of businesses and activities including accommodations, attractions, restaurants, meeting venues, taxis, retail and entertainment. The tourism and hospitality sector employs 315,000 people throughout the Toronto region, highlighting the many diverse businesses that rely on inbound tourism.
“We’re thrilled with Toronto’s ongoing reputation as a top international destination and we’re proud that our government, working together with Tourism Toronto and other partners, continues to successfully attract tourists, create jobs and grow our economy here in Ontario,” said Michael Coteau, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. “Looking ahead, we expect an even bigger economic boost this year as we host the TO2015 Pan/Parapan Am Games.”
Toronto is the most-visited destination in Canada by fellow Canadians with 10.5 million overnight domestic visits in 2014. These visits generated spending of $2.44 billion in the destination. In addition, Canadians make up the majority of the 25.5 million same-day visitors the destination received.
“The outlook is not without its challenges, but there has never been a more exciting time to visit Toronto – from new attractions, the new Queens Quay promenade, UP Express, new and renovated hotels, and a summer-long line-up of festivals, events and special promotions,” said Mr. Whitaker.
Conventions and events
Toronto’s convention sector also reached new heights in 2014 by booking a record number of future hotel room nights for conventions and meetings. In 2014, Tourism Toronto and its partners confirmed 665 future meetings and conventions including 13 major conventions to be hosted at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. In all these meetings will bring 463,400 attendees to the Toronto region, generating 640,345 hotel room nights.
During 2014, Toronto hosted such global events as the International Astronautical Federation with 2,500 attendees from around the world, the American Association for Thoracic Surgery (4,500 attendees), Million Dollar Round Table (7,000 attendees), Lions Club International (15,000 attendees) and Amway India (4,000 attendees).
The impact of meetings is far-reaching as many international delegates extend their stay, bring family with them to the convention and often are inspired to return again for a pleasure trip to explore the region.