TORONTO — The Greater Toronto Hotel Association (GTHA) held its annual general meeting last week at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel. An upbeat video promoting Toronto as a destination served as a lead-in to the meeting, with news that the video, produced by Tourism Toronto, has now gone viral with a total of six million views. Members of the GTHA executive shared more good news with attendees as, citing statistics that show hotels in the Toronto region sold a record 10,038,481 room nights last year (a year-over-year increase of 4.3 per cent), representing 14.9 million overnight visitors who spent a total of $8.1 billion.
The audience of hoteliers learned that a hotel tax is set to be implemented by government, although the association is working to get answers as to what the amount of the tax will be and how it will impact destination marketing. David Kelley, outgoing chair of the association, also provided highlights of the past year, including a new speaker series introduced by the GTHA, with its first session focused on “Human Trafficking.” (The next instalment is scheduled to take place on June 16). He encouraged hoteliers to set a policy on how to deal with this issue. Kelley also cited the recent Spirit Awards as the most successful to date, with record attendance of 570 and 242 nominees.
Terry Mundell, GTHA president, addressed the audience, representing incoming chair Bonnie Strome, who was unable to attend the meeting. Mundell said “It’s been a hell of a year, with a lot of challenges,” highlighting the impending hotel tax, reductions in WSIB premiums, and changing workplace reform as some of the issues the association has had to deal with. “We have our hands full. There’s lots of work to be done on these files, not just for our industry. There’s a lot of work to do on the tax and to ensure our guests understand what it is.”
Mundell made an impassioned plea to hoteliers to “start thinking about the elections coming up,” and the importance of exercising their franchise to vote. “I’m not here to lecture you but to urge you to think about what’s at stake and the opportunity we have as an industry to get our voice heard. We’ve had two or three good years, but we don’t want to lose it.”
The GTHA’s executive committee for the year includes Bonnie Strome, chair; Edwin Frizell, vice-chair; Tim Reardon, secretary treasurer; David Kelley, past chair; Robert Housez, executive member; and Terry Mundell, president and CEO.