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Tourism in Ontario

Archived Backgrounder

Tourism in Ontario

Tourism is an important economic driver and community builder in Ontario, and the province is taking action to ensure its long-term viability through key investments in marketing, festivals and events and a competitiveness study that will help the industry build for the future.

More than 100 million people visit Ontario every year, and its profile as a tourism destination is on the rise  -- in the first quarter of 2007, user sessions at ontariotravel.net, the province's official tourism website, grew by 30 per cent over the same period in 2006.


 According to preliminary estimates for 2007:

  • Based on data from Statistics Canada, it is estimated that tourism is a $22.8 billion industry in Ontario.

Tourism and related businesses -- accommodation, food & beverage, recreation & entertainment, transportation, tourism-related retail, car rentals, tour operators and travel agents -- stimulate economic activity and jobs in communities across the province.

  1. Almost 158,000 businesses provide goods and services for tourists, representing 19 per cent of the total number of businesses in the province. More than 90 per cent are small and medium sized businesses.
  2. Tourism supports more than 307,700 jobs throughout Ontario's economy.
  3. Tourism is the largest employer for Ontario's youth and the largest seasonal employer.*


*Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey



Ontario recently announced a new competitiveness study that will:

  • get all Ontarians talking about the future of tourism in the province
  • raise the profile of the tourism industry and create a platform for new initiatives
  • deliver a focused agenda to support the growth and long-term viability of tourism in Ontario as an important element of the province's economic development.


The study is chaired by Vaughn MPP Greg Sorbara.



Tourism is growing exponentially worldwide.

  1. The United Nation's World Tourism Organization forecasts that international arrivals are expected to reach about 1.6 billion by 2020.
  2. Ontario's main tourism markets include the U.S., United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and France.
  3. Emerging markets include Mexico, China, South Korea, India, Italy and Australia.


*Source: World Tourism Organization (WTO)


Did you know...

  • Ontario has more than 250,000 lakes including the Great Lakes, which hold one-fifth of the world's fresh water.  We also have countless rivers and streams -- 100,000 kilometres of them -- and a saltwater coastline at Hudson and James Bays.
  • Ontario also lays claim to the world's longest fresh-water beach at Wasaga on Georgian Bay.
  • Caribana is North America's largest street festival.  It draws more than one million people to Toronto every year to celebrate Caribbean culture.
  • With more than 6 million cubic feet (168,000 m³) of water falling over its brink every minute, Niagara Falls is the most powerful waterfall in North America and perhaps the most famous in the world, attracting millions of visitors a year.
  • The Greater Toronto Area's golf community is among the top three in North America when it comes to active golfers, most rounds per capita and number of corporate tournaments.  It's also the leading market in Canada for golf spending.
  • Toronto is home to the Royal Ontario Museum's Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, one of the "new seven wonders of the world" according to Condé Nast Traveler magazine.
  • The only Chinese Lantern Festival held in North America will be hosted by Ontario Place from July 31 to October 2.
  • Quinte's Isle is home to the world's largest system of freshwater sand dunes. And at nearby Lake of the Mountain Provincial Park the lake defies geographical and geological theory by having no visible water source.
  • The Rideau Canal waterway, which extends from Kingston to Ottawa, is North America's most scenic waterway and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007, along with Fort Henry and the Kingston Fortifications.
  • Ottawa's Rideau Canal offers 7.8 kilometres of uninterrupted skating, making it the world's longest skating rink.
  • Ontario has 49,000 kilometres of groomed snowmobile trails, the longest network in the world.



Travel and Recreation