This weekend the Blue Jays open their home schedule as the reigning American League East champs. The team – and the entire city – have their eyes on a much bigger prize this year. And next weekend the Raptors, who have already clinched their third consecutive Atlantic Division title, start their playoff run that will hopefully extend well into the hot weather.
At our AGM last fall I was honoured to present, along with the Greater Toronto Hotel Association’s Terry Mundell, the Presidents’ Award (and a cigar!) to Paul Beeston, former President & CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays. This award was jointly created seven years ago to recognize an organization or individual from outside our sector who has made a significant contribution to the tourism business.
The deep relationship between a winning sports team and the tourism industry is well established, yet it can’t be overstated. The importance of the Blue Jays to our business comes from the crowds of 50,000 people that will once again fill the stadium and pour into bars and restaurants all around the city, into the hotels for people that will travel to be a part of the excitement – especially fans from other parts of Canada now that the Jays are undeniably Canada’s team. For many Americans, their first exposure to Toronto may be through baseball; the energy of the fans and the flip of a bat.
One thing is for sure – Toronto will receive its fair share of screen time across North America in the coming weeks. The powerful wave of Jays momentum across the country comes just as the Raptors hit their post-season peak, riding the #WeTheNorth movement and those incomparable fan images of Jurassic Park.
Vibrancy and energy are infectious and they are often the reasons people choose to travel to urban destinations like Toronto. I know we’re all looking forward to the drama and excitement ahead and to celebrating the Blue Jays and Raptors – Canada’s teams – from coast to coast. It’s a fun ride and also a vital driver of tourism business.