TORONTO — Tourists’ primary mode of travel to Canada is changing.

“Canada is becoming a fly-to nation, rather than a drive-to nation,” said David Goldstein, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC), while commenting on Tourism Toronto’s 2010 Year in Review.

According to Tourism Toronto, despite 70,000 fewer American visitors in 2010, the city welcomed 130,000 more tourists by plane from Europe and Asia. A growing number of U.S. visitors are flying in from major centres in New York, Michigan and California. “People are arriving from the big cities, and these are visitors who travel more, stay longer, do more and spend more,” said Andrew Weir, Toronto Tourism’s vice-president of Communications. “We are now marketing in a new normal. Passports are required and the dollar is at par or above, so it’s a very different market than it was before,” he added, describing the shift from cross-border tourism to the urban-global traveller.

The greatest increase in Toronto’s 2010 visitor count came from the emerging economies of China, India and Brazil. In 2010, 197,000 Indian and Chinese tourists came to Toronto, an increase of more than 25 per cent over 2009. Brazilian travellers to Canada more than doubled in 2010. In 2010, the average American spent $500 in hotel, shopping and restaurant bills during their stay in Toronto, while overseas tourists contributed $3 billion to the city’s economy.

Toronto’s popularity has risen in the past three years with nearly 10-million overnight visitors last year, up 3.2 per cent over 2009. The report found visitors spent $4.4 billion last year and generated $1.08 billion in taxes for the city, province and the country. Compared to other North American destinations, Toronto climbed from 19th in 2009 to sixth place last year due to an increased hotel occupancy rate. A record 8.9-million hotel room nights were sold in 2010.


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