Throughout the summer’s Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, Toronto commuters complained as they navigated highway lane restrictions, increased traffic and puzzled tourists converging on the city, but across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), hoteliers were beaming.
With competitions held in more than 30 locations, the farthest located 200 km north of the city, operators beyond the GTA felt the positive effects of the event. It was most evident in Hamilton, Ont., which hosted games inside the CIBC Hamilton Pan Am Soccer Stadium and events in other venues. “For the Hamilton area, this is probably the best summer they’ve had,” said Tony Elenis, president of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA), based in Mississauga, Ont. “Hamilton gained 10 points in some hotels because summer is not usually a busy time for them.”
Traffic and sheer convenience made it much more appealing for athletes to stay in a local hotel rather than commute between venues and the Athletes’ Village at Toronto’s waterfront. “The areas north of Toronto, and incidentally, even the Highway 400 corridor [also] had more business, specifically related to the Pan Am Games,” says Elenis. “The resorts up that way, and in Simcoe County, have done exceptionally well, and because they were booked, they gave some overflow to the city of Barrie.”
There was some fear that traffic congestion would keep transient business and regular group business away from Toronto during the games, but Terry Mundell, president and CEO of the Greater Toronto Hotel Association (GTHA) in Toronto said while rooms were slow to fill leading up to the games, GTHA members saw a surge in last-minute bookings.
“We were lucky enough to receive a large room block through TO2015, including support and service staff required to be in the city 10 days prior to the start of the games until Aug. 15,” said Ron Pellerine, GM of Toronto’s Chelsea Hotel.
The games made a lasting impression on ORHMA and GTHA members. “For [areas outside of Toronto], this summer is going to be the best summer they’ve ever had and they are all excited because of the exposure they will get and how that will benefit future business,” said Elenis.
Writen By: Danielle Schalk with files from Amy Bostock
Volume 27, Number 6