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Toronto tourism recovering thanks to overseas travellers

The city’s tourism industry is starting to recover from the recession though the patterns are changing, a new study has found.

According to a Tourism Toronto report, the city is becoming more popular among far-off, international travellers – and less so with road-trippers from south of the border.

Last year, an estimated 9.9 million visitors stayed in the GTA overnight, about three per cent more than 2009 but fewer than the 10.5 million in 2007.

The report found that more than two-thirds came from within Canada – most of those Ontarians – while 20 per cent came from the U.S. and 13 per cent from overseas.

“This is my first time here in Toronto with my family,” Iraqi tourist Mohammed Nassreollas told CityNews. “I think it is an amazing, amazing city.”

The strong loonie and tightening border caused a three-per-cent drop in tourism from the U.S. But rising incomes and tourism partnerships in countries like Brazil, India, and China helped bring overseas travel up 11 per cent.

Not surprisingly, the Yonge-Dundas area attracted more tourists than any Toronto neighbourhood, coming ahead of the waterfront, Chinatown and Queen Street West.

“It reminds me a little bit of Times Square in New York,” said Manchester resident Joan Holt.

Tourism generates $1 billion in tax revenue for the city and employs 224,000 in the hospitality industry.

To view the full report (pdf), click here.

To view Tourism Toronto’s annual report (pdf), click here.