Modern. Contemporary. Inclusive.
These are three adjectives that Tourism Toronto has been circulating throughout a series of new marketing campaigns that aim to leverage the City of Toronto as Canada's official downtown.
Yesterday afternoon, Andrew Weir, executive vice president and chief marketing officer from Tourism Toronto was in attendance for a SKAL luncheon at the Boulevard Club. His presentation touched on the importance of the travel trade media, as well as challenges that come with the task of positioning Toronto as not just another international city, but as the recognized downtown of the entire country of Canada, rising above other eclectic Canadian cities like Vancouver and Montreal.
"When you’re marketing internationally, the reality is, it’s country first," Weird explained. "You dream about a trip to Australia more than a trip to Sydney, and that’s been a challenge because that’s what people do when they think of Canada. How do we tell that story of Toronto? How do we tell a big, urban, colourful story when people think of mooses and mountains? There’s a thread of idealism and progressiveness that people piece together; that Canadians welcome everyone from all over the world, and those progressive elements are very true. That’s what we’re leaning into. Travel is about critical mass and people need to know that’s there’s enough to do here."
In the past, Tourism Toronto marketed Toronto by using slogans that suggested travellers can "do everything" here, and that created a problem: if you can do everything you can do in Toronto that you can do anywhere else, then what's the point of coming at all?
Andrew Weir, executive vice president and chief marketing officer from Tourism Toronto, and Fred Azouz, president, Skål International Toronto Club
To address this issue, Weir explained that it all circles back to embracing that Toronto isn't seperate from Canada, but moreso, a contemporary part of the country that any traveller should make an effort to see. Canada is an incredibly young country and because of that, the cities are young, too. Toronto, in particular, thrives once the sun goes down, and the city comes to life through neon lights, whether that's catching a show at Massey Hall, or walking through Yonge-Dundas Square and gazing up at the billboards and bars that litter the four corners.
In 2017, Toronto broke records with the number of visitor arrivals. In that year, 43.7 million travellers arrived in the city, with 15.5 million overnight visitors and $8.8 billion dollars spent. In comparison, Toronto saw 5.1 million international visitors, with 2.1 million international visitors, resulting in $2 billion dollars spent.
"Tourism is the dominant economic driver in many parts of the country and this means business, this means jobs, and it [tourism] drives the economy," Weir said. "We’ve made an effort to diversify the market and when we see that 5.1 million we are proud of that."
Of the 5.1 million visitors in 2017, the United States made up the market majority, followed by the U.K., Japan, Mexico, Germany, and China, which is a market which continues to grow.
"Travel is a discretionary purchase because it’s what people share, what they see and what they do," Weir said. "So, how do we leave an impact with our visitors? How are we remembered? It all comes down to storytelling, and it’s important that we take this tourism week in Toronto to talk proudly."