TORONTO — As a result of travel restrictions and lockdowns caused by the global pandemic in 2020, Toronto lost $8.35 billion in lost economic activity tied to visitor spending according to Destination Toronto date. And, with the addition of the Greater Toronto region, the overall economic losses add up to more than $14 billion.
Destination Toronto has released full-year analysis of the pandemic’s impact based on its Visitor Economy Study released in late 2019. Produced by Tourism Economics and done in partnership with the Toronto Region Board of Trade, the study found that Toronto’s 27.5-million visitors generate an economic impact of $10.3 billion and support 70,000 jobs (based on 2018 data) in the region.
“When we released the Visitor Economy Study in late 2019, it showed the enormous impact of visitor spending on our local economy and how that economic activity supports businesses and benefits all of us in city, the province and the country,” says Scott Beck, president & CEO, Destination Toronto. “Little did we know that the same study would soon be used to show the enormity of the impact of the pandemic on the people and businesses that make up the visitor economy.”
The analysis revealed the attractions-and-entertainment industry saw a $707-million reduction in visitor spending, accommodations experienced a $1.2-billion loss, food-and-beverage experienced a drop of $1.3 billion and retail stood as the hardest hit sector, with $1.67-billion in lost economic activity. All told, reduced visitor spending resulted in $1.44 billion in unrealized tax revenue across all three levels of government — $711 million provincially, $528 million federally and $205 million municipally.
“Prior to the pandemic, Toronto had been riding a wave of momentum and experienced annual growth in visitor spending for over a decade. The foundation of our past success, rooted in the quality of our city’s experience, gives us confidence in the inevitable recovery of our industry,” says Beck.
The meetings and events industry has been devastated by the pandemic, with Destination Toronto reporting 463 conferences and events that have cancelled or postponed since the start of the pandemic. Together, these resulted in $833 million in losses for this sector alone.
“We are working non-stop to get through this pandemic so that we can safely re-start and re-open our city. Prior to the pandemic, Toronto was welcoming millions of people from the around the world who were eager to see and experience our city. One of the hardest-hit areas during the pandemic has been the hospitality and tourism sector, but I am absolutely confident that this sector will come back strong with more jobs than ever before,” says Mayor John Tory. “I am determined to work with Destination Toronto and businesses across the city to attract visitors and ensure all the success we had before COVID-19 continues when these tough times are over.”