TORONTO — Hoteliers from across the GTA gathered at the Hilton Toronto, yesterday, for the Greater Toronto Hotel Association’s (GTHA) annual general meeting (AGM).
David Kelley, chair of the GTHA’s Board of Directors, kicked things off with some light remarks and pivoted into the business of the day. “Our accommodation sector welcomed over 14 million overnight visitors in 2015, with 9.64 million total hotel room nights sold, which is an increase of 2.6 per cent when compared to 2014,” he said. “Toronto surpassed 4 million international visitors for the first time in 2015, as American and overseas travellers continued to increase. China and the U.K. numbered a record 1.75 million visitors who spent $1.49 billion. These markets continue to grow as the GTA continues to attract global travellers.”
Kelley also discussed the impact of outside factors on the GTHA. “Transit and infrastructure continue to be an issue in the GTA,” he said. “We have been involved in discussions [with the municipal government for transportation needs] to and from the airport region, about more affordable and available transit for GTHA employees.”
Following AGM business, which included the appointment of auditors, a nominating committee report and approval of minutes, guest speaker Johanne Bélanger, president and CEO of Tourism Toronto, took to the stage. “These are good times, but they are not easy times,” she said. “Today, we have a currency advantage. There’s more money going into tourism marketing at all levels across Canada than ever before. Our destination is riding a wave of momentum and appeal as Toronto is unequivocally Canada’s downtown. We’re a global hub that has the most, the biggest and quite frankly the best attractions, festivals, neighbourhoods and restaurants. Toronto is Canada’s downtown and we’re not afraid to say it.”
Bélanger also discussed the importance of a strong partnership between the GTHA and Tourism Toronto. “[Hotels] provide the financial fuel that drives our destinations, sales and marketing efforts,” she said. “Hoteliers are our most engaged partners. Our goal has to be to build sustainable business and model for delivering consistent growth.”
Micheal Coteau, Ontario Minister of Tourism Culture and Sport sent a video message for the audience as well. “Tourism places a vital role in strengthening our economy, enhancing our quality of life and promoting our cultural identity to the rest of the world,” he said.
The GTHA represents over 170 hotels in the GTA, which includes 36,000 guest rooms and 32,000 employees.