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In Canada, tourism is one of the major sectors driving the country's economy in all regions. Their contribution is as much as the combined wealth obtained from forestry, agriculture and fisheries. This will look at tourism in Canada with respect to Toronto, one of the best country's best kept secrets. The discussion will focus on how the current global economy might affect the tourism in the region. Various topics that will be handled throughout the paper include Toronto's current state of tourism bearing in mind its organization, various destinations and attraction sites and the levels of arrivals.
According to City of Toronto (2010), Toronto is Canada's biggest city and the provincial headquarter of Ontario. It is situated in Southern Ontario on Lake Ontario's western shore. Its population is over 2.5 million, making it the one of the most populous cities in North America. Toronto is Canada's economic capital and consequently considered by the Globalization and World Cities (GaWC) study group as an alpha world city. Other tourism, the city's other leading sectors of economy include transportation, aerospace, sports industry, media, telecommunications among others. The city's population is international and cosmopolitan reflecting its role as a significant immigrants' destination to Canada.
Geographically, Toronto covers an area of approximated to 630 square kilometers. On Lake Ontario's northwest shore, its waterfront shoreline is 46-kilometres. The Port Lands and the Toronto Islands expand some distance outwards the lake creating Toronto Harbor, that is fairly sheltered directly on the down core's south. Toronto's borders are created by Lake Ontario to the South, highway 427 and Etobicoke to the West. To the North is Steels Avenue and Rouge River to the east. Topographically, the city is intersected by Don River to the east and Humber River to the west end, together with numerous tributaries. It is also, made up of naturally created Toronto Harbor whose build up led to creation of Toronto Harbor. Due to presence of rivers and tributaries, there are large tracts of forested ravines that are densely populated (Heller, 2008).
The city's climate is modest for Canada due to its southerly location in the country. The climate is described as humid continental, with cold winter and warm, humid summers. Toronto encounters four distinctive seasons, with substantial variance in daily temperature, especially throughout the colder weather season. A blend of the above mentioned factors among others has made Toronto one of the major tourism destinations in Canada (City of Toronto, 2010).
How tourism is organized in Toronto
All tourism activities in the entire Ontario province are overseen by The Ontario Ministry of Tourism generally. The ministry is charged with a daunting task of ensuring that all tourism related activities managed and coordinated in conjunction with various departments and provincial agencies charged with specific aspects of the sector. For instance, the ministry initiated Premier Ranked Tourist Destination (PRTD) Framework for the purpose of helping different regions within the province evaluate the strength tourism within (Heller, 2008).
The move empowered municipalities to run their own affairs as far as tourism is concerned. Consequently, the Toronto City Council coordinates all tourism activities with the help of various departments and organization. In Toronto, the PRTD project kicked off in 2006 funded by City of Toronto and Service Canada and with resources being offered by the Ministry of Tourism. It all started by formation of a steering committee that was industry-led. Currently, the steering committee is made up of 19 persons who tirelessly work to advice and provide best strategies to boost the industry.
The destination focus and products
The city of Toronto has many destinations that can give those with a love of adventure and vacation a fantastic experience. Toronto is the place to be whether your interest is just getting a place to eat, a good hotel to relax, convention space or various attractions. First of all one can visit a historical market-St. Lawrence Market. This is considered among the 25 best markets for food. It is situated in the heart of the neighborhood of Old town Toronto at front and Jarvis Streets (Miles, 2005). The South market boasts of more than 50 gourmet food purveyors, Market Gallery with the city's photographs under its roof, while the North Market houses Sunday Antique Market and Saturday Farmers' Market aging 200 years old. The market is well reputed for hosting various celebration events all the year round.
Spectacular hotels are also one of the aspects of the city. Approximately, the city has over 32, 000 hotel rooms hence making it the city with the highest number of accommodation facilities as compared to any other in Canada. It also has the highest number of rate of occupancy, at 73 percent.
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More attractions are in offing upon visiting Toronto. The Toronto Waterfront is beautiful scenery and is one of the biggest recreational waterfronts in North America. The location offers a scenic backdrop for various entertainment and popular joints entailing the CN Tower, Ontario Place, Harbourfront, Rogers Center and Toronto Islands. Many big events are also held here, they include: Winter City, Scotiabank Nuit, the Toronto International Film Festival, Caribina, the Canadian National Exhibition and Blanche (Gibson, 2003).
A visit to the Downtown Toronto will expose one to museums together with art gallery galore. They include: The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), Canada's biggest museum and top ten worldwide, Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), the oldest art gallery in Canada and home to more than 15, 000 paintings, there is also the Ontario Science Centre that educates and entertains approximately 800, 000 visitors yearly. Towards the northeast of Toronto, there is the Toronto zoo; Canada's biggest zoo that has over 5, 000 wild life within their natural environment. Right to the city's north, there is Canada's Wonderland; Canada's biggest theme park featuring way above 200 attractions together with over 65 rides within a breathtaking environment. All over the city, from Etobicoke to Scarborough, the waterfront to the North York, one encounters historic sites of Toronto. They entail a Victorian Mansion, a War of 1812 fort, and the house of Toronto's first mayor (Mackenzie house) among others.
Miles (2005) asserts that other attractions include Air Canada Centre, an up to date arena that houses the Toronto maple Leafs of the National Hockey League and Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association. Further, there is Rogers Centre popularly known for its roof that is retractable and it houses the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team and the Toronto Argonauts football team. The CN Tower that was in the recent past nominated among the Seven Wonders of the Modern World has beautiful constructions such as a revolving restaurant, glass floor observation decks and Simulator Theatre. It attracts more than two million visitors yearly as a result of being the most decipherable landmark in Toronto.
City of Toronto (2010) observe that the Canadian National Exhibition, located on Lake Ontario's shores in a three hundred and fifty acre festival of entertainment, has been in existence for the last 130 years and runs for 18 days from mid-August through to Labor Day weekend witnesses more than two million visitors not only from Canada and the world across. The event customarily implies the end of summer. This is the biggest exclusive yearly exhibition with fun derived from sports, agriculture, buildings and rides. The exhibition is also used for holding the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair which is held during November, each year.
Economic Impact of Tourism in Toronto
Tourism is not only an important activity to Toronto but to Canada as a whole. The activity is one of the most important drivers of the economy in the city. There are direct, indirect and induced effects of investment in tourism activities in the region. For instance, investment in Waterfront has seen Toronto being placed ahead of leading global cities hence fostering economic growth. Tourism has provided a lot of jobs for Toronto residents, boosting the economic growth (Heller, 2008).
The impact tourism has on the economy of Toronto is very immense as witnessed in the number some of the statistics. Looking at figures obtained from revitalization of the Toronto Waterfront it interesting to note that the investment that cost $641.9 since its inception in 2001 to 2009 provided 8,400 job opportunities on full time basis, whose bigger percentage, about 70, came from Toronto area. Most of these jobs are either the technical, scientific and professional service areas or construction, whose levels are both high value and skilled jobs. Over the same period, the sector has pumped a gross output of $1.6 billion to the economy of Toronto (City of Toronto, 2010).
The value added expenditure is estimated to be at $879 million which mount up within the city. The government also benefits greatly from tourism in Toronto as the Federal Government received $180 million; the Provincial Government was entitled to $124 million while the city of Toronto itself obtained $20 million. The categories of revenue are fees, property taxes, corporate and personal income tax, tariffs, sales and other miscellaneous taxes.
How the current economic situation might impact this tourism
The current global economy, though it cannot be described as stable, is recovering reasonably from the effect of global economic recession that hit the whole world in the recent past. Major world economies like the United States of America, China, China, Great Britain, and Canada among others are indicating a slight upward growth. This is good to the tourism industry not only in Toronto but the world over. Rapid globalization being experienced today will ensure that Toronto receives many visitors to boost the sector and the economy as a whole (Laberge, 2010).
Looking at Toronto itself, many initiatives aimed at strengthening its operations have been established. They include Global Toronto: Internationalization, One Toronto: Economic Opportunity and Inclusion, Creative Toronto: Productive and Growth and Proactive Toronto: Business Climate (PlanetWare, 2010). The above have an overall objective of making Toronto the ultimate destination for investment. This has an implication that Toronto is marketing itself for building its economy and sectors, tourism included will stand to benefit.
Toronto's current economic context is very different from what it used to be. Its economic structure and the competitiveness' nature together with its role in Canada have fundamentally changed. It has become the country's economic engine hence the need of implementing new strategies, approaches and ideas to attain full potential. This is another factor that will make many people want to visit Toronto hence positively impacting on the tourism sector.
Toronto is currently one of the world's leading tourism destinations. The beautiful sceneries, historical sites, state-of-the-art constructions, world class hotels and adequate accommodation facilities are some of the aspects making Toronto the best location for vacations. Tourism has greatly contributed to Canada's economic growth making it one of the important drivers of economy. In Toronto, sector has provided a lot of job opportunities and revenue to help in putting it as Canada's economic power house. Due to the global economic recovery, the players in the sector are very optimistic that Toronto's tourism sector will flourish even further.