May 19th, 2010, 03:48 PM
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City's tourism sector gets thumbs up
Toronto's convention centre services and visitor's bureau have captured the top spot in a ranking of 46 cities across North America.
The industry survey that gave the thumbs up to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and Tourism Toronto comes as a boon to the city's tourism industry in what has been a challenging year.
Watkins Research Group Inc. surveyed over 600 meeting planners from across North America about eight categories, including the quality of convention centre and tourism bureau services, hotel size and safety and accessibility within the city.
The Watkins study, conducted every two years, is considered the most influential of its kind in the meetings and convention industry and Toronto has been moving up in the rankings.
In the convention and visitors bureau category, Toronto jumped to the top spot from No. 8 in the 2008 survey.
Two years ago, Toronto was ranked No. 16 for convention centre services and No. 21 for convention facilities. It captured the first and fifth spots, respectively, this year.
“It's one thing for me to tell my staff that we are doing a great job,” said Barry Smith, president and chief executive of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. “It's another when it's our clients saying it, particularly our convention clients.”
The convention centre focused on improving customer service, for instance, getting staff to feel comfortable dealing with issues on the spot. “It's an attitude that we are part of their team to help them host a successful convention, not just there to set out the chairs and serve beverages,” Smith said.
The meetings and conventions trade is a big business and a major component of the tourism and hospitality industry.
The meetings and convention business added over $305 million in visitor spending to the Toronto region in 2009.
Overall, tourism brings in $4 billion in annual spending and employs 154,000 people.
I dropped you off at the train station, And put a kiss on top of your head
I watched you wave, I watched you wave
Then I went on home to my skyscrapers, Neon lights and waiting papers
That I call home, I call it home