A record number of tourists visited the City of Toronto in 2017, pumping $9 billion into the local economy during the year, according to a new report from industry association Tourism Toronto.
A report released on Wednesday states that 43.7 million tourists descended on the Greater Toronto Area in 2017 – with more than a third of them staying at least one night. Spending from those tourists amounted to a total of $8.84 billion – a new record.
The results “show consistent growth across virtually all the markets over a five to seven-year period,” according to the report. “For the U.S. this is the seventh straight year of growth and the international markets have been growing steadily since the global recession around 2008-2009.” Total spending by tourists in Toronto is up 47% during the past five years, while the number of visitors to the city and surrounding region rose 17% in the same period.
Almost three million tourists were overnight visitors from the U.S. The next most popular starting points for tourists visiting Toronto were China, the United Kingdom and India. Toronto scored its biggest one-year increase from Mexico, a 72% rise from 44,000 visitors in 2016 to 75,000 visitors in 2017. In December 2016, Ottawa scrapped a seven year old requirement for Mexicans to get “visitor visas” before coming to Canada.
Other factors accounting for the strong tourist season in 2017 include Canada’s 150th birthday festivities and concerns many foreigners have about visiting the United States in the current political climate. Toronto is also getting attention from superstar rapper Drake, multiple pro-sports teams performing well, a reputation as a food mecca, and the annual Toronto International Film Festival.
“Canada is having a profound moment right now and Toronto is the major urban centre of that country, so we are leveraging Canada’s strength and positioning Toronto as Canada’s downtown,” said Andrew Weir, Executive Vice-President of Tourism Toronto.
Convention business also remains strong, with Toronto attracting large gatherings including more than 20,000 Rotarians expected this June. And, domestic travellers continue to visit Toronto more than any other Canadian city. Toronto welcomed 10.4 million overnight domestic visitors in 2017. They spent $2.6 billion while in the area.