This is how the Toronto tourism industry plans to bounce back after the pandemic
The tourism industry in Toronto has been hit hard after more than a year of stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions.
The industry, supporting 70,000 jobs in the city across five sectors including accommodation, food and beverage, recreation, transportation and travel, came to a halt in March 2020, resulting in an estimated $8 billion in economic losses last year.
But with vaccinations now rolling out across Toronto and beyond, it feels like there may be some hope for the city to get back to the hustle and bustle it's used to.
Destination Toronto vice-president Andrew Weir says although the exact time of recovery is hard to predict, he's confident the industry will bounce back.
"Look at what happened when patios were allowed for a week, people just rushed out of the house," Weir told blogTO. He says demand for travel still exists, "it's just sitting on the sidelines for now."
Surveys have also revealed Canadians will prioritize spending money on travel post-pandemic above other things like clothes and smartphones while domestic travel has already picked up in other countries that have reopened like China and the UK.
This past year, the pandemic has taken its toll on the tourism and hospitality sector.— John Tory (@JohnTory) March 4, 2021
I am determined to work with @SeeTorontoNow and businesses across the city to attract visitors and ensure all the success we had before COVID-19 continues when these tough times are over. pic.twitter.com/TGIIXuQhXa
"Which is an encouraging sign that the same will happen in Canada once we reach a point where the restrictions are removed or reduced," Weir says.
Although people are clearly excited to get travelling again, Weir isn't so sure that necessarily means they'll be flocking to cities, however.
"We'll see a lot of travel happening to hike and beach destinations and resorts outside of the cities before we see a strong resumption of urban travel," he says.
Weir says the team at Destination Toronto has been working hard to ensure they're ready once restrictions are lifted in order to mitigate this slow return to city travel.
Weir says the early days of reopening will also be very focused on engaging with locals rather than trying to draw in new visitors.
Weir says the speed at which restaurants, theatres, attractions and concerts will return to the city could depend on how quickly locals respond. Though he has no doubt people are eager to support.
"It's been tremendous seeing that even when it was difficult to do it," Weir says. "We were still finding ways [to support] through curbside pickup and staying connected virtually like signing up for virtual theatre performances."
"Recovery is going to start with us as residents," Weir says. "Once the restrictions are lifted, it'll be a great time to go explore things that you've never done before in the city or go back to some old favourites.
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