This month marks Andrew Weir’s first month as Destination Toronto’s new President and CEO. Terminal Editor Kathy Motton connected with Andrew to learn what inspires him and what he’s most fired up about when looking at the opportunities that lay ahead.

What inspires you about taking on the role of CEO at this specific moment?

Andrew WeirIt starts with the destination itself. Toronto has such an exciting story to tell. We have our challenges here, no doubt, and as residents we see all of it - what works and what doesn’t. But to a visitor the view can be very different. They see a modern global city that doesn’t merely embrace diversity but thrives because of it - in our food, our arts, our neighbourhoods. Those are experiences travelers want and Toronto’s offering is deep all throughout the city.

I also see our community rallying together in such a powerful way. Tourism-oriented businesses are collaborating with us and with each other more than ever. There is a greater recognition of the power and vitality of our Visitor Economy, both within our sector and - importantly - beyond it in the broader business community and with the City of Toronto. When everyone understands the need for a strong Visitor Economy, we are more aligned in making the strategic decisions and investments that will produce that outcome.

What are some key opportunities you see as immediate priorities?

After the difficult years of the pandemic and some of the resets that had to occur, we are in a strong position to accelerate the last phase of recovery and zero in on key growth opportunities for the next five years. The first priority is to continue to rebuild core business segments that have not fully recovered, like citywide meetings and international leisure travel. Both of those were understandably hit very hard and while we have seen substantial recovery, they’re both critical drivers of Toronto’s Visitor Economy and not yet back at levels we saw five years ago. 

Beyond recovery, we have identified significant areas to exploit to drive new growth and attract new travelers to the destination. Affluent and luxury travelers from the U.S. are a key target group because Toronto can deliver that experience in our own unique and accessible way. And while some key overseas markets like China remain constrained, new ones are emerging and Toronto’s strong air access enables new partnerships to reach into new markets. 

When everyone understands the need for a strong Visitor Economy, we are more aligned in making the strategic decisions and investments that will produce that outcome.

How is DT evolving in light of those opportunities?

As we look at substantial opportunities ahead, we are looking closely at the role Destination Toronto can play to realize them in collaboration with partners. Sales and marketing will always be at the core of our mandate, driving new business to the destination through very disciplined, results-oriented strategies. We have also focused more on providing essential tools to businesses through our analytics and business intelligence platforms, and storytelling tools through our Marketing Playbook and asset library. 

We also see the opportunity to play a greater role in elevating the destination experience to be in the best position to capture our share (or more!) of the new markets and business segments. That will mean working closely alongside key partners and stakeholders to ensure a strong product throughout the year, and a destination that not only inspires and attracts new visitors but also is ready for them and delights them when they are here.