Toronto Sets New Record
On the heels of Destination Canada’s record-breaking, 22.1 million overnight arrivals and $104.9 billion in tourism expenditures in 2019, the country’s largest city, Toronto, has also set a new visitor record with 28.1 million visitors in the city, topping 2018’s 27.5 million visitors.* Visitors to Toronto spent $6.7 billion in the destination in 2019, including restaurants, attractions, transportation, retail and accommodations – nearly $200 million more than in 2018. The new visitor numbers showcase the strength of Toronto’s visitor economy that experienced a decade of growth with more than 4 million more visitors added over 10 years.
“Toronto’s visitor economy continues to be an economic engine for the city, and that benefits all of us. This is a sector of Toronto’s economy that supports 70,000 jobs and 10,000 new jobs over the past 10 years. It generates billions in tax revenue for all three levels of government and drives growth in the overall economy for the city, the region and the province,” said Scott Beck, President and CEO of Tourism Toronto.
A centre of excellence in life sciences, technology and CleanTech, Toronto attracts global events in these, and other innovation sectors. The city’s business events industry continues to be a thriving component of the overall visitor economy. In 2019, nearly 574,000 delegates attended meetings, conferences and events stemming from the city’s 1,124 total meetings. Those meetings include 116 events with more than 1,000 delegates and 19 citywide conventions. The economic impact for meetings in Toronto in 2019 reached a record $1.24 billion. In 2019, Toronto was named Canada’s top meeting destination for the second consecutive year by Cvent.
Visits from the U.S., Toronto’s largest international market, continue to rise with nearly 2 million visitors, representing a 3 per cent increase year-over-year and a 15 per cent increase over five years. Visitor spending from the U.S. increased to $1.35 billion – a 4.4 per cent growth year-over year and 51 per cent growth over five years.
China remains Toronto’s largest overseas market with 222,000 visitors. Despite declining 5.4 per cent in 2019, visits from China have increased 24 per cent over five years. Toronto also continues to see strong growth from the Mexican market, welcoming 64,000 visitors in 2019, representing a five-year growth of 146 per cent.
The Toronto region as a whole saw 45.4 million visitors and $10.9 billion in visitor spending, both new records.
“Visitors to Toronto come from all over the world, during every season and for many different reasons. It’s a reflection of Toronto’s own diversity,” said Beck. “We’re a city where more than 50 per cent of our population was born outside of Canada. We’re a city that’s the Canadian epicenter of culture, entertainment, sports, technology, finance, education and business. The diversity of our visitors showcases our own diversity and we’re thrilled to welcome more and more of those diverse visitors every year.”
In 2019, Tourism Toronto partnered with the Toronto Region Board of Trade on a landmark economic impact study that assessed the vital importance of Toronto’s visitor economy. The study, based on 2018 data, found the visitor economy generated $10.3 billion in overall economic impact for the city.
“I’m proud to champion Toronto’s visitor economy and its benefits to everyone in our city. It is great to see the number of visitors to Toronto continuing to grow. We want it to grow not only because visitors mean jobs and spending in our city but also because those visitors, when they experience Toronto, also become permanent residents and job creating investors in Toronto,” said Mayor John Tory. “We are Canada’s most visited city and I would encourage people across our province and around the world to keep visiting Toronto this year.”
*In previous years, Tourism Toronto released Toronto regional visitor numbers. The 2019 visitor data reflect City of Toronto boundaries, except where explicitly stated as regional.