A surge in tourism is having a growing impact on Toronto’s economy, with a record number of visitors driving job growth in various industries.
A new report released by Tourism Toronto and the Toronto Region Board of Trade shows that Toronto’s 27.5 million tourists generated $10.3 billion in economic activity last year, with tourism spending and industries including entertainment, recreation and food services growing ahead of the overall economy.
The report, called Toronto’s Visitor Economy: An Economic Catalyst for the City and the Region, says tourism accounted for 70,000 full-time equivalent jobs or about 4.6% of Toronto’s workforce in 2018, a net addition of 10,000 over the past five years. The jobs generated $3.1 billion in wages for residents and $1.8 billion in tax revenue for all three levels of government. Visitor arrivals increased 17% during the same period.
Statistics Canada data shows hospitality and food services posting the fastest employment growth in Toronto from 2000 to 2017, beating out sectors including computer systems, finance and insurance. The manufacturing sector, meanwhile, continues its long-term retreat.
While tourism is on the rise, the analysis says visitor spending is growing even faster, with a 46% increase from 2013 to 2018. The increase is driven in large part by Toronto’s growing share of the international visitor market, with long-haul international visitors staying longer and spending more, the analysis shows. It says Toronto accounted for 57% of all rooms sold in the region, as well as 65% of all hotel room revenue.
The report also found that the benefits of the visitor economy are felt beyond the city of Toronto. When looking at the Toronto region as a whole, in 2018, the economic impact of the visitor economy reached $17.6 billion, creating more than 121,000 total jobs, and $5.2 billion in wages.
Visitors also provide a significant economic boost for communities outside the Toronto region, as they spend a further $2 billion in communities such as Niagara Falls, Ottawa and Muskoka.
“We are Canada’s downtown—more and more people want to visit Toronto to enjoy everything our city has to offer,” Mayor John Tory said in a public statement. “This report makes it clear how important our vibrant visitor economy is to supporting jobs and businesses here in Toronto and across Ontario.”