Tourism, meetings and visitor spending reach deep in Toronto, driving economic growth

The millions of travellers who visit Toronto each year leave a dramatic impact on the community, spending over $8 billion and driving more than $12 billion in overall economic activity, a new study reveals. The study shows both the immediate effect of direct visitor spending and the continued impact of the visit as this new money continues to circulate throughout the city and regional economy.

Daniel novykov T Lo GZA0w qw unsplash

The report on the Economic Impact of Visitors in Toronto, found that 26.5 million visitors arrived in the city of Toronto in 2023, and spent $8.4 billion across a wide range of sectors, including accommodations (26 per cent), local and air transport (26 per cent), dining (24 per cent), shopping (13 per cent), and entertainment (11 per cent). Beyond this direct spending, the effects of induced and indirect spending reach even further into the broader regional economy, benefiting the finance, insurance and real estate, utilities and health care industries, to name a few.

"There is a straight line between visitor arrivals and economic growth, and this study reveals just how thick that line is," says Andrew Weir, president and CEO of Destination Toronto. "The impact of visitors while they are here is clear as they spend on accommodations, dining and experiences. And their impact on our community doesn't stop when they get on a plane to go home. They have brought new money into our economy that continues to support businesses and tens of thousands of jobs all throughout our city and region."

"There's no tourism without hotels, and our latest study confirms just how central the hotel industry is to the Greater Toronto Area economy," says Sara Anghel, president and CEO of the Greater Toronto Hotel Association (GTHA), a co-funder of the research.

The new study was prepared by Tourism Economics, a division of Oxford Economics, and commissioned by Destination Toronto in collaboration with the GTHA, Toronto Global, the Toronto Region Board of Trade and the City of Toronto. It is based on 2023 data and provides a new view of Toronto's visitor economy five years after the previous economic impact study, published in 2019.

"Visitors to the city of Toronto spent $8.4 billion in 2023," says Tariq Khan, lead economist and study author with Tourism Economics. “While that is higher than the previous record of $8.2 billion in 2019, inflation plays an important role in that five-year increase, as some key segments of the visitor economy have not fully recovered from the pandemic interruption."

Jobs and taxes

When considering direct, indirect, and induced impacts, 67,000 jobs are sustained in the City of Toronto by tourism spending and meetings, according to the new study, generating $3.5 billion in labour income. Visitor spending also contributes $2.1 billion in tax revenue to all three levels of government, with the province benefiting the most at 46 per cent, or $961 million.

"Visitor spending benefits all Torontonians by generating more than $2 billion in tax revenue that supports vital public services we all value. If visitor spending were to disappear, each Toronto household would have to spend $1,800 more on taxes just to sustain services at the same level," says Weir.

Regional Impacts

The study also analyzed visitor trends and impact across the broader Toronto region. In 2023, 45.9 million visitors arrived in the Toronto region, spent $12.3 billion and generated an economic impact of $20.3 billion. In addition, these visitors who travel to Toronto often move beyond the city and region to other parts of the province.

"As Toronto attracts a substantial number of international visitors, many of those visitors extend their trip and explore other parts of Ontario," says Khan. "We found those visitors add a further $1.7 billion, or 81 per cent of the total $2.1 billion, in spending in communities beyond Toronto, showing the true gateway effect of Toronto in generating visitation and spending throughout the province."

"Accommodation alone accounts for over $3 billion of the $12.3 billion that visitors spent in the Greater Toronto Area in 2023. This sector adds $1 billion to the GDP and sustains more than 22,000 jobs. To build on this success, we urge all levels of government to collaborate with our industry to enhance the region's competitiveness by investing in tourism infrastructure and reducing cost burdens on job-creating businesses,” says the GTHA's Anghel.

Share on LinkedInShare on TwitterSend to a friendCopy Link