Since our last update, COVID-19 has expanded globally and is affecting communities around the world. We are sharing what we know about the virus, the impact of this global situation and what Tourism Toronto is doing as it unfolds.
WHAT WE KNOW RIGHT NOW
COVID-19’s impact on the visitor economy continues to escalate. Here is some information that we are tracking to help keep you informed on the current situation.
- Numerous airline have suspended travel to highly-affected regions such as China, Northern Italy, South Korea and Iran.
It’s reasonable to expect that visitation to Toronto from these highly affected markets will decrease at least into the second quarter of 2020. This is especially the case with the China market. While China is important for Toronto and our largest overseas market, it represents 6.8% of all international visitors, whereas the U.S. visitor market is 60% of international visitors.
- Airlines are reducing capacity in response to decline in demand.
Airlines like United and JetBlue are reducing U.S. and Canadian flights by 10%. It’s also reasonable to expect reduced travel from other countries as travellers reassess their travel plans.
- Corporations are implementing travel restrictions or bans for their staff.
With organizations and businesses restricting non-essential travel globally, Toronto can expect to feel the effect of this given that the city is a key destination for business travel.
- Some meetings and events cancelling or postponing.
This is a trend seen in a number of countries where events from Google, Amazon, Facebook and others are being cancelled or postponed. Right now, this is happening particularly within the tech and life sciences sectors. As a global city with thriving tech and life science sectors, Toronto will not be immune to the cancellations seen elsewhere.
As you may be aware, this now includes the 2020 Collision tech conference in Toronto. Conference organizers, today, announced that Collision 2020 will take place online, returning to Toronto in June of 2021. You can read more about the announcement here.
WHAT TOURISM TORONTO IS DOING:
As the situation develops, Tourism Toronto is actively engaging with clients and responding to requests for more information about COVID-19. We’re working closely with the City of Toronto, the province and our provincial and federal counterparts, Destination Ontario and Destination Canada, to ensure we have the most up-to-date information. In addition to gathering important information, we are also doing the following:
- Adjusting in-market programs:
We have paused activity in some markets, including China, and are monitoring the situation closely to be ready to restart activities at the appropriate time. In the meantime, we’re evaluating opportunities to augment investment in other markets.
- Meeting cancellation or postponement transparency:
Tourism Toronto-secured meetings that have been cancelled or postponed will be shared with the community to keep members informed via the Booking Notice tool.
- Proactive communications with key customers:
Tourism Toronto is communicating proactively and frequently with meeting planners and tour and travel partners as the situation continues to develop.
- Stakeholder engagement:
We are maintaining constant contact with our peer cities, civic and business leaders throughout Toronto, and partners such as Destination Canada and Destination Ontario to align strategies and ensure disruption to business is minimized.
- Public Health engagement:
Tourism Toronto is in contact with public health authorities and we have been reassured that the current risk level in Canada remains low.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
This is a challenging time for many businesses, and you may already be feeling the impact both from a visitor and a local perspective. Here are some steps you can take as the global COVID-19 situation continues to develop.
- Help us stay informed:
With the situation being fluid and evolving quickly, we ask that partners continue to keep us informed from the front lines and let us know how the situation is impacting your business. If you’re experiencing a loss in business or cancellations, please let us know. You can do so by replying to this email.
- Maximize safety:
Most businesses have no doubt taken steps already to minimize risk and ensure the safety of customers and staff. Some additional tips in maximizing safety in the context of COVID-19 can be found here:
- Keep relying on trusted sources:
There is a lot of misinformation circulating in the news, on social media about COVID-19. It’s important to note, for example, that there are currently no government restrictions in place to prevent travel within Canada or government restrictions on large scale events.
The following promote accurate information that can be useful to you or those you are communicating with:
Public health links:
- Public Health Agency of Canada: Updated information about the current public health situation, nationally.
- Toronto Public Health: Updated information about the current public health situation in Toronto.
- Center for Disease Control Travel Advisories: Accurate travel information and risk assessment by country.
- Toronto Pearson International: Updated travel information for those travelling through Pearson.
- Destinations International Resource page: Destinations International has a resource page that includes accurate and updated information pertaining to the effects on travel, tourism and the meetings industry.
- Meetings Mean Business Coalition Preparedness Toolkit: Providing frontline meeting and travel employees tailored resources. You can read the Meetings Means Business Canada response here.
- Events Industry Council: EIC has extensive resources about how the events industry is being impacted by COVID-19.
- Proactively evaluate current group business:
Look for key indicators of potentially vulnerable business. Those would include meetings in tech and life sciences sectors; meetings that are more international in nature; and particularly meetings with large contingents from affected areas. Additionally, look for opportunities for a rebooking as an alternative to an outright cancellation.
- Keep being Toronto:
This is not Toronto’s first time in a situation like this. Given that we have experience managing situations like SARS, we know how to not only rebound, but how to also plan for future success. Let’s do what Toronto does best – being resilient.
We will continue to update you with information as it becomes available. If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, we welcome your feedback.