TORONTO — The Greater Toronto Hotel Association (GTHA) held its annual general meeting last week, bidding farewell to outgoing chair Robert Housez and ushering in a new chair, with hopes for renewed growth in the association. David Kelley, GM at the Soho Metropolitan, is the incoming chair of the 89-year-old association, leading an executive that includes Mark Ive, vice-chair, Andy Loges as secretary and Bonnie Strome as executive member. 

In addressing his constituents for the first time, Kelley stressed six key mandates for the association over the coming year: funding, tourism, convention centre expansion, Metrolinx, the Pan Am Games and establishing sound relationships with a new Ontario government. Not surprisingly, the association’s primary focus is the need for long-term sustainability of the Destination Marketing Program (DMP). Over the past year, the association had to deal with a series of challenges regarding the DMP but after dealing with them, the program is now in place, said Housez, outgoing chair, noting the tireless work by Terry Mundell, GTHA president. “DMP funds being raised help us to focus on marketing in the U.S,” said Kelley.

The new chair also stressed the importance of connecting to American travellers via a three-year tourism marketing initiative aimed at re-energizing the U.S. consumer. “We are the only G7 country without a marketing program,” said Kelley.

As the city gets set to welcome the Pan Am games in 2015, Kelley stressed the importance of ensuring hotels are ready to respond to the influx of visitors to the city. The launch of Metrolinx in April 2015 will help facilitate the efficient transport of travellers to and from the Toronto airport via a high-speed train, which will take less than 25 minutes.

Despite the challenges of the past two years, outgoing chair Housez said Toronto saw 9.2-million room nights in 2012 as well as impressive gains in the overseas market.

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