The Spring survey shows residents recognize the impact of visitor spending on Toronto’s economy, see the value of government investments to attract visitors, and plan to engage in a range of activities this summer
In the Fall of 2022, Destination Toronto restarted its semi-annual Toronto Resident Sentiment Survey. The survey is conducted in May and November each year, and today’s insights represent the latest wave of resident sentiment data collected in May 2023.
The survey explores residents' perceptions of the city’s visitor economy from two lenses:
- The perceived impact of the industry on our city and,
- The support from residents for promoting the city to visitors.
Like many Canadian urban destinations, 2022 saw a comeback of travel to Toronto. The domestic leisure market led the city's resurgent visitation demand. 2023 visitation growth to Toronto continues to outpace 2022, both domestic and international with the exception of some key Asian markets, and remains robust amidst increased demand and sticky inflation. The survey explores how these factors and outcomes continue to shape resident perceptions of the visitor economy.
Residents recognize the impact of visitor spending on Toronto’s local economy
The Spring survey shows that Toronto residents clearly recognize the impact of the visitor economy on the local economy of the city, with a growing appreciation of the contributions made to the city’s tax revenue. 87% of the surveyed respondents recognize the visitor economy as being important to Toronto’s local economy (Figures 1.1 and 1.2), remaining consistent with the Fall survey. 77% also acknowledge the substantial contributions made by the visitor economy to the city’s tax revenues (Figures 2.1 and 2.2).
In your opinion, how important is the tourism industry to Toronto’s economy?
To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement about Toronto: Tourism generates substantial tax revenues for the city, benefiting its residents
The Spring survey shows that Toronto residents clearly recognize the impact of the visitor economy on the local economy of the city, with a growing appreciation of the contributions made to the city’s tax revenue.
Business travel moved up a rank in terms of resident perceptions with 59% recognizing the positive impact the industry makes on Toronto’s economy. Leisure travel, despite maintaining similar level of support as Fall 2022 with nearly 62% acknowledging the industry’s impact in both surveys, dropped a position as the sports industry superseded leisure travel and film industries in this survey (Figure 3). The impact of travel (business and leisure) ranked lower compared to other key sectors like finance, technology, real estate and transportation, a finding which aligns with the Fall survey results.
To what extent does the following industry positively impact the economy in Toronto? % Strongly Agree & Agree
Residents support government investments to attract visitors
A new addition to the Spring survey, when asked about their support for the government making strategic investments to attract more visitors and meetings, 77% residents supported the idea (Figure 4). This reinforces the importance of pandemic recovery investments and illustrates that residents are connecting the dots between investments in the sector and the economic benefits that accrue from the visitor spending those investments help generate.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement about Toronto: It's a good idea for the government to make strategic investments aimed at attracting more visitors and meetings
A new addition to the Spring survey, when asked about their support for the government making strategic investments to attract more visitors and meetings, 77% residents supported the idea.
Residents are likely to recommend the city and engage in tourism activities
Residents’ Net Promoter Score (NPS), measured as their likelihood to recommend the city as a place to visit to their friends and family, also grew 7 points from 66 to 73, a significant increase (Figures 5.1 and 5.2)
How likely are you to recommend Toronto as a place to visit to your friends, family members or colleagues who live outside of Toronto? Promoters: Very likely and likely; Passives: Neither likely or unlikely; Detractor: Very unlikely and Unlikely
With the summer starting, Toronto residents are also more likely to engage in tourism related activities (Figure 6) with all response measures showing growth compared to the Fall. Not surprisingly, we see an increased willingness to attend festivals, arts and cultural events, museums and other local attractions. Residents are also more likely to host visiting friends and family as the pleasant weather is supported by a city buzzing full of summer activities.
Overall residents see the benefits of having visitors in Toronto
The visitor economy sentiment among residents is measured using their responses to key survey questions like recognition of the positive impacts of business and leisure travel, concerns related to having visitors, and participation in tourism related activities. The movement of this score helps measure how the overall resident sentiment is trending compared to previous surveys. The Visitor Economy Sentiment (VES) score, calculated on a scale of 100, dropped slightly from 77.1 to 76.2 between the Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 surveys.
Overall, the Spring survey highlights key trends in resident perceptions as the visitor economy continues to recover from an unprecedented pandemic era. The benefits of visitation on the economy and the return of some pre-pandemic busyness are shaping residents’ perceptions of the visitor economy. Over the next two years, the future of the industry will also be influenced by key external factors including a tightening monetary policy, sticky inflation, and possibility of a mild recession. Through the resident sentiment survey, we will continue to measure how resident perceptions of the visitor economy evolve.
The data in this article was sourced from the survey data analysis performed by Anna Yu, BI Analyst at Destination Toronto.