In October, New York and Toronto announced a partnership that will see the tourism departments of the two cities sharing resources and cross-promoting one another to their own citizens and, jointly, abroad. The fit is natural, city execs observed, eschewing what would typically be a healthy tourism rivalry for market share.
“Toronto and New York City are the financial, entertainment and cultural centres of our two nations and this partnership goes a long way to share our big-city experiences with each other’s residents and visitors,” explained Tourism Toronto President and CEO Johanne Bélanger.
In other words, if a visitor likes New York they should like Toronto, and vice versa.
But it was also noted by Bélanger and NYC & Company president and CEO Fred Dixon that, beyond great attractions, culture, history, food and people, both cities share a culture of “diversity and inclusion” – indeed, the two words were repeated multiple times. Throw in “welcome” and a theme was emerging.
“Both cities are similarly built upon diversity and inclusion and we are proud to showcase that sense of welcome to the world together,” said Bélanger.
“New York City and Toronto share so much in common and both cities wholeheartedly embrace their diversity and multicultural dynamism, positioning both destinations as attractive and welcoming hubs for global travel,” Dixon echoed.
It’s clear a point was being made – beyond the joint travel promotion.
In fact, it’s no secret that plenty of tourism organizations in the U.S. are troubled by the negative perception that potential visitors have about travelling to the U.S. under an administration that has put in place a travel ban on some countries and wants to wall off another. Similarly, many non-whites and LGBTQ visitors are skeptical about travelling to the U.S., surveys suggest, fearing an escalation of racism and prejudice.
But count New York as one American constituency not content to stand idly by and be painted with the same brush.
“Welcome-ness is very much part of our brand. People here are free to be to themselves,” Dixon assured me, noting that the city is preparing to host WorldPride in 2019.
He added that the “diversity and inclusion” message of the day was certainly political, and a path New York would not shy away from in the future. In fact, he said, “We want to remind everyone of that.”
As for Toronto and Canada, “diversity and inclusion has always been part of our story; that has not changed for us. It’s not a new story,” Bélanger noted. But, she acknowledged that “when the two largest cities in our countries – vibrant world-leading cities – embrace and come together, we are showing just how powerful inclusivity can be.”
And nowadays, that sense of inclusivity is “more important than ever,” quickly added Dixon.
So, Toronto stands to see some of New York’s 60.5 million annual visitors (plus residents) give the Canadian city a try, while New York hopes to maintain its visitor base in part by aligning with a city that shares, and is globally recognized for, its values of – those words again – diversity and inclusion.
It makes perfect sense.
New York is determined to maintain is reputation as a “welcoming city,” in part by pairing with Toronto in tourism promotion.