Tourism Toronto has a history of closing the barn door after the horse has left the stable.
So despite a 12 per cent drop in visitors from the U.S. last year - not to mention a stronger Canadian dollar and tighter passport regs - the folks at TT have decided once again to spend most of their kitty on promos aimed at luring those same Americans.
"We must continue to market there, as it is the richest tourism market in the world," said Tourism Toronto CEO Bruce MacMillan at a recent Rendez-Vous Canada trade show of tour operators and government tourism staff.
Is this a winning strategy from the people who gave us the universally panned Toronto Unlimited campaign?
Jaime Horwitz of CanadaEnEspanol.ca , says we're missing out on the fastest growing market: Latin America.
While TT and other government tourism agencies put all their non-U.S. money in the China, Japan and Korea markets, Horwitz argues that Mexico, Spain and Venezuela have just as much tourism potential.
The figures seem to bear him out. Some 20,000 people visited from Mexico in January (January!), compared to 10,000 from China. Maybe a complete change of direction is needed.
MacMillan acknowledges, "We must think about people who are not just cross-border shopping." But, he insists, "our members [mostly hotels] demand that we stay focused on the convention business, as that is where we saw a large drop-off because of SARS."