Before we set our sights on 2019, I thought we could take a look back at a remarkable year in tourism for Toronto in 2018 and the impact it has had on our economy and for our community.

Here’s a list of some of my favourite things from 2018.

A record year for hosting citywide conferences: In 2017, Toronto hosted 18 citywide conferences. This year, we smashed that number. A record 26 citywide conferences were hosted in 2018. And when you look at all the meetings, conferences and events our team at Business Events Toronto serviced, you see more than 500,000 delegates being welcomed to the region and $565 million in delegate spending.

Celebrating the Views Are Different Here: We launched The Views Are Different Here a year and a half ago. In that time, the campaign videos have been watched more than 50 million times. This year it was named the Marketing Campaign of the Year at the Ontario Tourism Awards and most recently, it was named one of the Best City Campaigns at the International Travel + Tourism Awards at WTA in London. We’re so proud of the remarkable success of this campaign!

Collision comes to Toronto: Earlier this year, it was announced that North America’s biggest tech conference is coming to North America’s fastest growing tech hub in May. The best part is, they’re staying right here in Canada’s Downtown for the next three years – 2019, 2020 and 2021.

New (and newly rebranded) hotels: It was a fantastic year for new and newly re-branded hotels in Toronto. Hotel X near Exhibition Place joined our growing list of luxury hotels; The Kimpton St. George added to Toronto’s collection of boutique hotels; and the St. Regis debuted its first Canadian hotel.

A big year for partnerships: Partnerships are at the core of what we do here at Tourism Toronto. Of course, we continue to partner with Destination Canada and Destination Ontario on multiple fronts; we renewed our Stopover Program with Air Canada, Toronto Pearson and Expedia; we formed a new collaboration with Google; and we hosted our first digital “Golden week” campaign with AliPay and our premium partners, to name a few.

Toronto ‘runs with the pack’: Speaking of partnerships, we partnered with the world’s first transatlantic professional sports team – the Toronto Wolfpack. “The Pack” had a banner year – our rugby team won the Betfred Championship League Leaders Shield 2018.

Toronto FC make the finals: It was a big year for other teams in Toronto. Toronto FC became a seven-time winner of the Canadian Championship and were runners-up of the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League. We may have lost that match, but look out next year.

Raptors reach conference semis: For the third year in a row, the Raptors made the Conference Semi-finals. And we have some unfinished business in 2019 with the Cavs.

A big year for membership: We made some significant changes to our membership in 2018. We introduced our Premium Partnership program; launched the EDGE Event Series to keep members up-to-date with the latest developments, innovations and trends; we started an e-newsletter, the Insider, to deepen engagement with the tourism community; and we generated our first Market Report with a detailed analysis of visitors to Toronto, to name just a few.

Influencers loved Toronto in 2018: Sometimes, you have to let others do the talking for you. In 2018, influencers from across the globe told the Toronto story. Samira Wiley took over Vanity Fair’s Instagram stories; the Toronto Wolfpack toured Toronto on ITV in the UK; and Perez Hilton told us about the city where Meghan Markle and Prince Harry fell in love.

A successful Canada-China Year of Tourism:  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang officially declared 2018 the Canada-China Year of Tourism, and that meant exploring how to continue our China-readiness for visitors from our largest overseas market. This year, more and more businesses adopted Chinese mobile payment apps like WeChat Pay and Alipay; and we continued to educate ourselves on how visitors from China like to experience a destination.

Relax, Recharge, Renew turned 10: It was a celebratory year for our industry’s corporate social responsibility program, Relax, Recharge, Renew. This is a program that offers weekend breaks for parents that take care of children with complex care needs. Thanks to the generous support of so many of our members, the program not only celebrated 10 years of giving back in 2018, it helped give those breaks to more than 550 families since the start of the program.

Toronto’s on top for 2019: And to finish off my list, the future is looking bright for tourism in Toronto as we head into 2019, with many media outlets declaring Toronto a top destination to travel next year.

  • National Geographic named Toronto on its Best Trips for 2019 list – the only Canadian destination and one of only five cities in North America;
  • Travel + Leisure named us one of The Best 50 Places to Travel in 2019 focusing on Toronto during winter, highlighting efforts made to promote Toronto as a winter destination;
  • British Airways named Toronto one of the Top 19 for 2019 must-see travel destinations – again, the only Canadian city and one of only three in North America; and
  • Bott+Co named Toronto one of the Top 50 Food Capitals of the World, coming in at #3 behind only New York and London.

Wishing each of you a fantastic holiday season and a wonderful 2019.

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