Sorbara Leads Study To Boost Ontario Tourism

    Increasing Competitiveness Will Drive Economic Growth

    TORONTO, March 10 /CNW/ - Minister of Tourism Peter Fonseca today named
Greg Sorbara, MPP for Vaughan and former Minister of Finance, to look at ways
to increase Ontario's share of the multi-billion dollar global tourism market.

    Working with tourism and business leaders, Sorbara will:
    -   Study what Ontario's tourism industry does well and where there is
        room for improvement
    -   Identify Ontario's best prospects for growth and best practices
        around the globe and
    -   Develop an action plan, to be released in 2009, to ensure tourism
        continues to be a key contributor to Ontario's economic prosperity.

    The three objectives of the competitiveness study are getting all
Ontarians talking about the future of Ontario tourism; raising the tourism
industry's profile; and designing a strategy that identifies clear actions for
industry and clear roles for all levels of government.


    "The tourism landscape is changing dramatically. The findings of this
study will help ensure the province's tourism industry is prepared to take
advantage of new opportunities emerging globally. We are prepared to think
big, bold and out of the box to make Ontario the world's destination of
choice," said <a href="">Tourism Minister Peter Fonseca</a>.
    "This is a tremendous opportunity to grow a key economic sector for
Ontario -- a sector that is experiencing phenomenal growth world-wide. We want
to ensure we are providing the right environment for the industry to succeed
and prosper," said Greg Sorbara.


    -   Tourism contributes more than $20 billion to Ontario's Gross Domestic
    -   Ontario welcomes more than 118 million tourists annually
    -   According to the <a
	 href="">United Nations World Tourism Organization</a>, the
        number of international travellers is expected to double to nearly
        1.6 billion by 2020.
    -   Tourism employs more than 200,000 people in Ontario


    Check out Ontario's current <a href="">tourism performance</a>.
    Read about <a href="">recent provincial investments</a> to increase tourism.

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                             TOURISM IN ONTARIO

    Tourism is an important economic driver and community builder for Ontario.
In 2004:
    -   Ontario's tourism sector generated $6.7 billion in foreign exchange
        for the province
    -   Tourism contributed $20.4 billion to Ontario's GDP
    -   Tax revenues from tourism reached $9.2 billion, including
        $3.5 billion to the province
    -   Tourism supported 213,500 jobs in front-line tourism businesses and
        109,100 jobs in other businesses

    Tourism businesses are located throughout the province:
    -   Almost 162,000 businesses provide goods and services for tourists,
        representing 19 per cent of the total number of businesses in the
    -   Tourism businesses include: accommodation, food & beverage,
        recreation & entertainment, transportation, tourism-related retail,
        car rentals, tour operators and travel agents
    -   More than 90 per cent are small and medium sized businesses with
        fewer than 20 employees
    -   Tourism is the largest employer for Ontario's youth and the largest
        seasonal employer(*)

    (*) Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey


    The total number of visitors to Ontario in 2004 was 118.3 million.

    To view the bar graph please visit:

    Source: Canadian Travel Survey and International Travel Survey, Statistics


    -   There were 846 million international tourist arrivals in 2006(*)
    -   The United Nation's World Tourism Organization forecasts that
        international arrivals are expected to reach about 1.6 billion by
    -   New destinations have opened up, increasing competition (e.g., Asia,
        Eastern Europe)
    -   New source markets have opened up, presenting opportunities (e.g.,
        China, India, Mexico, South Korea)
    -   The Internet has made travel choices easier to make and book,
        increasing competition

    (*)Source: World Tourism Organization (WTO)


    To fully realize the opportunities that tourism can provide to Ontario,
the McGuinty government is undertaking a competitiveness study, chaired by
Greg Sorbara, to examine the tourism industry and develop an action plan to
revitalize and grow tourism in Ontario.

    Key areas to be reviewed include:
    -   Economic Factors - analysis of economic factors impacting the tourism
        industry to identify the greatest opportunities to improve the
        economic success of the industry;
    -   Market Identification - analysis of potential markets for Ontario's
        tourism industry to identify those with greatest potential to deliver
        a high economic impact;
    -   Product Development - analysis of Ontario's tourism product,
        including niche tourism products, barriers to creating new tourism
        product, strategies to increase investment;
    -   Marketing and Promotion - evaluation of Ontario's tourism marketing,
        at the national, provincial and local level;
    -   Infrastructure - review of public infrastructure, including rail,
        road, air transportation and border issues and how they affect the
        potential of Ontario's tourism industry.
    -   Workforce - analysis of labour market issues affecting service
        quality, including training for tourism industry employees and labour
        supply issues affecting the success of the industry;
    -   Industry Structure - evaluation of current tourism industry structure
        to identify potential improvements to more effectively advance the
        industry's interests;
    -   Role of Government - review and recommend the appropriate role for
        government at all levels to provide an environment that supports a
        strong tourism industry;
    -   Regulatory Environment - evaluation of regulatory issues that impact
        the industry from all levels of government.

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    Greg Sorbara, MPP for Vaughan and former Minister of Finance, has been
appointed to chair the Ontario Tourism Competitiveness Study and Action Plan.
    Mr. Sorbara has a long history of public service and private sector
    Mr. Sorbara was elected MPP for York North in 1985 and re-elected for the
new riding of York Centre in 1987 and 1990. In the previous Liberal
government, he held a series of senior cabinet posts including the double
portfolios of Minister of Colleges and Universities/Minister of Skills
Development and Minister of Labour/Minister Responsible for Women's Issues. He
later served as Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations.
    Mr. Sorbara returned to the private sector in 1995 and remained active in
his community and in business. He was a partner in The Sorbara Group from
1995 to October 2003. He was a member of the Board of the Business Development
Bank of Canada from 1995 to 2001, and a director of the United Way of York
Region from 1998 to 2001, and has been a member of the board of the York
University Alumni Association for several years.
    Mr. Sorbara returned to the public arena in June 2001 when he was elected
MPP for the riding of Vaughan-King-Aurora. He was re-elected in the 2003 and
served as Ontario's Minister of Finance from 2003 to 2005, and from 2006-2007.
He returned to the Ontario Legislature in October 2007 as MPP for Vaughan.
    Mr. Sorbara holds a Bachelor of Arts from York University's Glendon
College and a law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School. Greg and his wife,
Katie, have six children and six grandchildren.

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For further information:

For further information: Alicia Farrow, Minister's Office, (416)
325-4543; Gary Wheeler, Communications Branch, (416) 325-8391

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Ontario Ministry of Tourism

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