Council approves development of a five-year action plan to revitalize tourism|
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Toronto City Council yesterday approved a five-year Action Plan to develop a
strategy that will strengthen Toronto's tourism industry by focusing on five
key areas for improvement.
"This sector supports 95,000 jobs and generates $1.7 billion in annual tax
revenue for all levels of government, but we've been losing market share
steadily over the past decade. We need to act to reverse this decline," said
Denzil Minnan-Wong, Chair of the City's Economic Development and Parks
The plan incorporates input gathered during extensive consultations with the
industry. Much of the work was completed prior to the SARS outbreak. The impact
of the outbreak has increased the urgency for many of the directions
recommended in the Action Plan.
The Plan is based on research made possible through the generous support of the
Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Recreation.
"The Ernie Eves government is committed to a healthy and thriving tourism
sector in this city and across Ontario," said Tourism and Recreation Minister
Brian Coburn. "This plan provides sound fundamental direction and ideas for
future growth of tourism in Toronto. We are pleased to have funded half the
cost of the study and supported the development of the plan."
The Action Plan identifies five areas where improvement is critical.
The first priority is leadership and governance. Toronto's tourism sector
currently is fragmented and lacks a shared vision to guide tourism development.
The plan recommends developing a long-term strategic plan; increasing awareness
of the value of tourism; broadening the membership base of Tourism Toronto to
include more small businesses; and creating a new leadership umbrella for the
The second priority is the industry's public profile. The tourism sector
suffers because it has not sufficiently demonstrated the importance of tourism
to Toronto's economy and quality of life. The Plan recommends the development
of a long-term communications and education strategy aimed at business and
political leaders, and the community at large.
The third priority area focuses on the need to enhance Toronto's attractiveness
to tourists. In response, the plan recommends the development of a tourism
events strategy; enhancing the tourism impact of City-produced special events;
a new business plan for attracting large international events; and product
development for smaller scale attractions. The quality of the environment also
needs attention. The Action Plan recommends 'Integrated Quality Management', an
approach which has proven successful in Europe.
The fourth priority area is the need to improve the sector's ability to attract
new investment. The plan recommends that Toronto increase its attractiveness to
investors by maintaining a high-quality urban environment and by increasing
tourist visits through better destination marketing. Also needed is a proactive
program to attract new investment.
The fifth priority area is the need to increase the cost-effectiveness of the
sectors' marketing efforts. The plan recommends ways to make more efficient use
of current resources. It also recommends increasing the resources available for
Next steps include undertaking a communications strategy for the Action Plan;
striking a Tourism Advisory Committee; and forming a team that will explore
using an Integrated Quality Management to address tourism issues.
Backgrounder: Tourism Development Action Plan
City Council has approved a five-year Action Plan to develop a strategy that
will strengthen Toronto's tourism industry. The sector is a mainstay of
Toronto's economy but has been losing ground steadily over the past decade, and
especially since the SARS outbreak. The Plan is based on research made possible
through the generous support of the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Recreation.
The Action Plan identifies five key areas for improvement.
Priority One: Leadership and governance
Toronto's tourism sector currently is fragmented and lacks a shared vision to
guide tourism development, marketing and investment. Governments generally lack
understanding about how their actions have impact on tourism, and until the
SARS outbreak, the industry had low profile within the business community and
the general public. Other jurisdictions have taken bold steps to bring
stakeholders from the public and private sectors together in a formal
leadership structure. Examples include Montreal, Vancouver, Chicago, New York
State and City, and Singapore.
The Action Plan recommends four actions that are crucial to building a stronger
foundation of Toronto's tourism industry:
(i) The development of a medium- to long-term strategic plan that would analyze
the global tourism market outlook and Toronto's competitive position in
attracting tourists, then assess the actions needed to increase Toronto's
(ii) Increasing awareness of the value of tourism through the development of a
(iii) Broadening membership in Tourism Toronto to include more small
(iv) Creating a permanent leadership vehicle for the industry.
The Consultants recommend that leadership for these initiatives come from a
Tourism Advisory Committee with representatives from the public and private
sectors, large and small businesses, education and labour.
Priority Two: Raising industry profile
The tourism sector has not sufficiently publicized its contributions to
Toronto's economy and quality of life. The Plan recommends a communications and
education aimed at business and political leaders, the community at large, and
all Torontonians having contact with visitors.
Priority Three: Enhancing tourism product
Visitors to Toronto are generally satisfied with the quality of the city's
attractions. This will become the case even more three and four years in the
future, when announced investments in the Royal Ontario Museum, Art Gallery of
Ontario, Ontario Science Centre, the Ricoh Coliseum at Exhibition Place, the
Four Seasons Centre (ballet/opera) and Festival Hall (announced new home for
the Toronto International Film Festival) come on stream. Until then, the Action
Plan recommends focusing on:
(i) the development of a Tourism Events strategy,
(ii) enhancing the tourism impact of City-produced events,
(iii) a new business plan for attracting international events,
(iv) product development and packaging initiatives for smaller-scale
(v) the quality of the urban environment.
Priority Four: Creating an investment-friendly city
The Action Plan recommends that Toronto work to increase its attractiveness to
investors by maintaining a high-quality urban environment and by increasing
tourist visits through better destination marketing (Priority Five). It also
recommends that the tourism sector work together with the City to proactively
seek investment on an ongoing basis, and focus investment on tourism
development that builds on Toronto's unique attributes.
Priority Five: Increasing marketing reach and impact
Toronto currently lacks sufficient resources for destination marketing to
compete effectively with other North American jurisdictions. The Action Plan
recommends making more efficient and effective use of current resources by
leveraging research, using a branding strategy, focusing on niche markets,
capitalizing on the forthcoming renaissance among Toronto's premiere cultural
attractions, positioning existing leisure products (e.g. sports, theatre) to
tourist markets, developing stronger relationships with adjacent destinations
and other levels of government, and focusing more on leisure markets and
The Action Plan also recommends increasing the resources available for
destination marketing in the short term by supporting the Greater Toronto Hotel
Association's efforts to put in place a voluntary levy, and over the longer
term by continuing to work with the provincial government to seek new revenue
Short-term actions in progress
The City's Tourism Division staff are already at work on a number of
initiatives that will implement the Action Plan. These include the following:
Addressing Priority One: Leadership
-- Action Plan Development
-- New Service Agreement between the City and Tourism Toronto
Addressing Priority Three: Enhancing product development
-- The repositioning of signature events produced by Toronto Special Events to
increase partnership opportunities and become more tourist-oriented.
-- The establishment of cross-departmental Event Support team to streamline
logistics associated with holding events (e.g. traffic considerations,
-- Business plan for Toronto International, establishing a strategy for
-- Liaison with Licensing Commission on regulations to better ensure that
pedicabs (rickshaws) provide acceptable customer service.
-- Liaison with the tour guide industry and George Brown College to increase
standards within the industry and to introduce a course training tour guides.
-- Further development of a "Museum Passport" including City museums and the
Royal Ontario and Gardiner Museums.
-- Advice and support to the Toronto Aerospace Museum to enable it to expand
its program and attain a sustainable level of operations.
-- Continued work with Cruise Ontario to strengthen and expand the Great Lakes
-- Continued work to develop and expand Toronto-based product clubs
("Nutcracker Neighbourhood", "Toronto Jazz Live", "A Great Night Out").
Addressing Priority Four: Creating an investment-friendly city
-- Development of a new Tourism Investment Attraction Brochure and information
-- Continued liaison to facilitate initiation of Fast Ferry service to
Rochester Summer 2004.
Addressing Priority Five: Increasing marketing reach and impact
-- Toronto Branding Strategy.
-- development of a strategy and work plan to enhance the content of the
tourism portal on the City Web site (http://www.toronto.ca) and make the portal
more useful to prospective visitors.
To view the plan, visit http://www.toronto.ca/depts/econdev.htm#special.
Duncan H. Ross, Executive Director of Tourism, 416-397-5395