Researchers conclude that Toronto and Vancouver share traits with popular tourist destinations like Paris, Rome, Amsterdam and Barcelona. Regrettably, the similarities show up in urban constraints as well as enticements.
A new index of tourism-related economic development potential in 49 international cities plots the two Canadian contenders among nine cities that are experiencing pressure from a growing influx of leisure attraction seekers. Analysts from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and JLL cite inadequate resources to accommodate visitors, particularly when attractions are crowded into a scoped area, as a potential brake on tourism momentum. That’s a scenario that’s also causing concern in San Francisco, Prague and Stockholm.
“City government and policy makers alike are increasingly realizing the need to shift from just destination marketing to take a more proactive and holistic destination management approach,” the accompanying report advises. “They also need to plan their growth, defining where they want to grow, and assign priority to tourism planning at the highest levels.”
The report assesses 10 North American cities, 13 in Europe, 18 in Asia/Pacific, four in South America and four in the Middle East/Africa based on 75 indicators of their capacity to attract, engage and sustain tourism activity. This includes attributes directly tied to tourism such as attractions, accommodations, convention space, government policies and special levies or subsidies, along with broader economic, social and environmental conditions.
For example, both Toronto and Vancouver rank in the top quartile for “urban readiness”, which includes indicators such air quality, accessibility, political stability, quality of health care, cost of living, traffic congestion and the risk of a natural disaster. Less flatteringly, they also make the top quartile for stressors, which includes hotel capacity, concentration of tourist activity, receptiveness to home sharing and the tally of negative reviews of attractions.
Toronto additionally sits in the top quartile for its business strengths, based on metrics for the size of its labour force, its share of business travel spending, GDP per capita, corporate status, office space inventory, and convention facilities. It slips to the lowest quartile for leisure indicators, pertaining to its share of leisure travel spending, number of Airbnb listings, visitor attraction ratings, seasonal airport arrivals, cruise passenger arrivals and heritage status.
Toronto and Vancouver are set apart from North American counterparts that are characterized as mature tourism markets — which include New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Miami — and from Chicago and Washington D.C., which are viewed as more conventionally a destination for business travellers. Farther south, Mexico City is classified as an emerging tourism market.