We have some good news to start the year. In 2017, Toronto saw a record number of visitors in the region. Let me give you that big number – 43.7 million!
So how does that number break down? Toronto welcomed 15.5 million overnight visitors and 28.2 million same day visitors. Visits from the U.S. grew for the 7th year in a row and international visitors surpassed 5 million for the first time. We know that international visitors stay longer and spend more, so it’s not just growth that we’re seeing; it’s the right kind of growth.
And here’s another big number.
Visitors to Toronto spent $8.8 billion in 2017. That’s the most economic activity ever generated by the region’s tourism industry and represents $700 million more in hotel rooms booked, attractions seen and restaurants experienced than the year before.
One of the biggest stories we’re seeing from the visitor numbers is the influx of visitors from Mexico. Starting in December 2016, the federal government lifted the visa requirements for visitors from Mexico. As a result, visits from Mexico rose by +72 per cent in just one year, and +163 per cent over five years. That speaks to Canada’s place as an inclusive, progressive and welcoming country; and Toronto’s place within that larger picture as Canada’s Downtown.
Domestically, Canadian travellers continue to visit Toronto more than any other Canadian city. We welcomed 10.4 million overnight domestic visitors, spending $2.6 billion in 2017.
The good news extends into the hotel industry. Hotels in the Toronto region sold more than 10 million room nights last year, with occupancy rates at 76.2 per cent.
From a business events perspective, last year, the region hosted 951 meetings and events which generated spending of $634 million. At the same time, Tourism Toronto and its partners booked 934 new meetings and events for future years that included securing Amway China in 2020. Amway China will bring 10,000 of their top salespeople, the largest travel delegation from China ever to visit Canada.
So, Toronto has a lot of reasons to be feeling confident right now. It’s something we were keen to showcase when we launched the Views are Different Here campaign last year thanks to the financial support from the Greater Toronto Hotel Association. I’m proud to say that the videos from that campaign have now been seen more than 43 million times.
Now that 2018 is here, we’re looking ahead. Canada’s Downtown will play host to 24 city-wide conferences and events taking place throughout the Toronto region, the most Toronto has hosted in a single year.
Our future looks bright, and that benefits everyone—in Canada, in Ontario, the greater Toronto region and the 329,000 people that work in the surrounding hospitality and entertainment industry.