Terminal editor Kathy Motton connected with Tara Gordon, CMP, Senior Vice-President, Global Sales & Services at Destination Toronto to check in on the booking pace, the new International Convention Attraction Fund and more. 

Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) is an annual recognition of the positive social and economic benefits that come from meetings, trade shows, exhibitions, conferences, and conventions. 

Major events in Toronto are expected to deliver an estimated $677M in economic impact in 2024. Events coming into the city include American Association for Thoracic Surgery (2,600, April), Pediatric Academic Societies (7,000, April), Collision (35,000, June), World Water Congress and Exhibition (3000, August), and MedTech Conference (3,000, October). 

As we celebrate GMID this April 11, where exactly do things stand for the business events industry in Toronto?

The Toronto Sign at Nathan Phillips Square lit blue
The Toronto sign lit up in blue to recognize GMID

Kathy Motton: What is your take on the current state of business events in Toronto?

Tara Gordon: While there is more work to be done, I’m confident in our strategy. We’ve aligned our development efforts to the city’s thriving economic sectors like life sciences, finance and tech. Since January, this sector strategy has accounted for 66% of all leads generated and 75% of all bookings--that’s an estimated $49M in economic impact for future bookings in just one quarter!

This strategy plays an important role in driving results for our destination. By leaning into these sectors and teaming up with key partners we are seeing higher conversion rates and the potential for larger attendance for our clients.

Business Events offer a unique opportunity to involve diverse audience perspectives and ignite positive transformations, whether by advocating responsible consumption, promoting gender equality, or championing climate action.

KM: As we celebrate GMID, what makes you feel most optimistic about the future of business events?

TG: I’m encouraged by the increased collaboration across the industry. Last year, the Government of Canada announced a Federal Tourism Growth Strategy that prioritized the attraction of international events. In the following months, I joined many of my peers on a nationwide business events advisory formed in partnership with Destination Canada, which led to the announcement of the International Convention Attraction Fund (ICAF) that earmarks $50M to business development and the attraction of major international business events to Canada.

The announcement of ICAF comes at a crucial time with increased competition to secure major events. The fund underscores Canada’s commitment to supporting major events and the economic sectors that benefit from hosting global conventions in our country. When conventions, conferences or other major events select Toronto, they know they are choosing a destination that recognizes the value of their business and is invested in their success.

KM: What are the key factors influencing decisions or what is top-of-mind for planners right now?

TG: Event organizers are facing a significant challenge: How to create outstanding events and meaningful attendee experiences that truly connect with a new generation of attendees.      

In-person events bring together more than just people. They bring together ideas, creativity, innovation, and so much more. By prioritizing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), events have an opportunity to increase awareness, foster conversations, and motivate efforts toward attaining these crucial objectives. Business Events offer a unique opportunity to involve diverse audience perspectives and ignite positive transformations, whether by advocating responsible consumption, promoting gender equality, or championing climate action.

Destination Toronto is actively investing in creating innovative event legacy and impact initiatives. Last year, Destination Toronto worked with two organizations that independently audit and assess tourism sustainability work and benchmark it against other destinations and businesses. Toronto was one of 20 Canadian destinations that participated in the Global Destination Sustainability-Index, through a national partnership with Destination Canada; and additionally, Destination Toronto became Bronze Certified by GreenStep Sustainable Tourism for the sustainability of our business. We also launched our I.D.E.A.S. Guide, a resource for meeting professionals planning DEI-conscious, accessible and sustainability-minded events. These programs align with our clients’ missions and play a crucial role in building a more sustainable, socially responsible and inclusive global future.


To learn more about how you can support Global Meeting Industry Day and for a tool kit to help amplify the impacts of business events, visit Meetings Mean Business Canada.