English Travel & Tourism

Covid-19 hits Toronto tourism Hotel, restaurant and attraction revenue plummets by half

Toronto’s tourism sector was one of the first industries affected by the coronavirus and is expected to lose billions of dollars in direct and indirect spending during the first half of 2021, despite the $ 125 million support offered by Lisa MacLeod, Provincial Minister of Heritage, Sports, Tourism and Cultural Affairs for Toronto and other Ontario cities.

In February of last year, John Tory announced that Toronto was setting a new visitor record. According to the Destination Toronto organization (before the pandemic known as Toronto Tourism),  in 2019 the city received more than 28 million visitors who generated an economic spill of more than $ 6.7 billion dollars in restaurants, attractions, transportation, commerce and accommodation.

However, the economic injection of visitors to Toronto stopped after the pandemic. According to Statistics Canada, spending on tourism in the last quarter of 2020 fell by 65%, compared to the same period of the previous year.


Destination Toronto, the city’s official tourism promotion company and the Toronto Region Trade Council prepared a study that showed the economic impact of national and international visitors. The study, based on data from 2018, found that tourists generated a very positive knock-on effect for the overall economy of the city and surrounding regions of $ 10.3 billion.

Air travel and the restaurant industry collapse

Toronto’s tourism sector, which supported more than 70,000 jobs and generated billions in tax revenue, is dying as a whole, but according to a report by Travel Daily Media, the most impacted sector has been the air transport sector due to the travel restrictions. For its part, the Restaurants Canada association estimates that more than 30% of restaurants in Toronto will have to close their doors.

Traditionally, the United States was Toronto’s largest international market, with nearly 2 million annual visitors, followed by China with 222,000 visitors, but Toronto had become a favourite destination for other markets. For example, a year before the outbreak of the pandemic, 64,000 Mexicans visited the city, which represented a growth of 146%.

For José Miguel García, co-founder of the tourist agency ‘De Vago por Toronto’, the pandemic brought great changes. “We had a year of growth planned with group bookings, new destinations and activities for summer and winter. At first, we adjusted. But when it came to postponing the trips, our clients chose to ask for their reimbursement,” García said in an interview.

“The contingency in addition to the reimbursements affected our reality and financial future, since we had made investments based on the projections for our company that specializes in the Mexican market that visits the city and surroundings. ‘De Vago to Toronto’ was our only source of income and the suspension of flights has affected us a lot. However, we have adjusted the sails of our ship and we are preparing for when the start date arrives,” he added.

With flight restrictions and the closure of the border for tourists, it is difficult to predict when the sector will return to flight. The Ontario Tourism Industry Association and local and provincial governments already plan an undated campaign to promote national tourism; however, for many companies, this injection of investment could arrive too late.

Por Silvia Méndez

Twitter, IG, FB: @TOSilviaMendez

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