We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Toronto/Niagara as a tourist destination...how it started.

Which Toronto hotels are on sale?
dd/mm/yyyy dd/mm/yyyy
See hotels
London, Ontario
Level Contributor
1,361 posts
Save Topic
Toronto/Niagara as a tourist destination...how it started.

After reading some bad review of trips here from the UK, I thought it might be interesting to recount how it all got started. Air Transat and the now defunct Canada 3000 found that they were transporting Canadians to the UK on holiday trips, but frequently, although the plane was full going east, it was quite empty on the westbound flights as the Canadians were not ready to go home. It was only in late August that the westbound flights were packed. So, they hit on the strategy to market Toronto and Niagara as a destination, not because there was much to see, but simply to fill their planes. Both Toronto and Niagara eventually responded with things for tourists to do and see. But these have been 'fabricated' to appeal to tourists, unlike European citiies where you go to see ancient buildings and historic sites. So this should be kept in mind when you see glowing posters in the UK about Toronto and Niagara. It was stated 'Toronto is a city of neighbourhoods', but no more so than any world city. Every city in the world is a city of unique neighbourhoods. I don't think you can promote Toronto on that basis. Toronto is merely a modern city, with the usual things that modern cities have. It has a lot of things to see, but really no more than any other city. All cities have museums, art galleries , malls, zoos, parks, Chinatowns, Greektowns, Little Italies, Little Portugals, etc etc. You need to seek out what is unique to Toronto and promote it. I love the Danforth and the Greek area, but I'd never say to a tourist to go see it as an attraction.

toronto
Level Contributor
3,252 posts
110 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Toronto/Niagara as a tourist destination...how it started.

Toronto isn't simply a "modern city;" more importantly, it's a post-modern North American city. It's new -- less than 200 years old, with very few buildings dating back anywhere near that far -- and it doesn't have any kind of specific national / ethnic character. Its diversity makes it a spectacularly attractive place to live (except for those who find diversity somehow threatening or unpleasant), but it doesn't give the city any kind of centre of gravity.

As a result, people who come here looking for typical tourist sites are often disappointed. Once they've been up the CN Tower and made the trek out to Canada's Wonderland, there ain't much here of that nature. I mean, Casa Loma? Really? A rundown 19th century monster home that's been hyped up as an, ahem, castle? Fine if you live in Saskatoon or Milwaukee, but for someone coming from Europe, it's a bit of a joke.

Toronto has many pleasures that go beyond the cliché of the "city of neighbourhoods." There is a thriving art and design scene, great independent theatre and music (as well as the obvious big shows), at least a dozen substantial film festivals, walkable neighbourhoods with odd shops and great food, and many pleasures of daily life that are particular to this city.

Personally, these are the things I look for in every city in addition to the big attractions, whether I'm visiting Paris or Buffalo.

So, too bad for the Brits who are taken in by the shiny posters put up by Transat Tours. If they want history, they should stay home, or take Ryanair to the continent. If they want glitz and bling, Disney World and Las Vegas are only too happy to take their money.

Toronto is a different kind of place. If you want to find the beauty here, you have to get off the tour bus and poke around.

London, Canada
Level Contributor
3,759 posts
69 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Toronto/Niagara as a tourist destination...how it started.

Toronto isn't any different in terms of attractions than New York or Chicago.....it's just on a smaller scale. TO has world class theatre, restaurants, music venues, sports events, the TIFF and is far friendlier and cleaner than most cities according to polls....not just me.

Niagara has been a tourist destination for eons.......it's the Falls for goodness sakes. Everything has been built around that as an attraction but there are more activities becoming popular around the area with Niagara on the Lake offering wineries, theatre and natural sights to enjoy a little away from it all.

Pairing them as one desirable destination when they are merely an hour and a half apart makes perfect sense.

Not too be forgotten, within a couple of hours of Toronto is the gorgeous region of Muskoka where numerous vacationers have had unique cottage/resort holidays enjoying some of the natural beauty of Canada.

I know several visitors from England and Scotland who love this little corner of the world and come back time and again.....each time discovering new things to enjoy.

There will always be negative reviews, but it's quite sad to me when one of the "locals" on TA also chimes in about things that disappoint him about his region. As helpful as you can be Trptld, I may be wrong, but I think you would be far happier back in the *other* London from most of your posts.

We cannot compare to an incredible city like London ......which is why I'm heading across the pond in another two weeks. Have always loved it, always will.

But I can also appreciate all Ontario has to offer-----visitors and those who live here alike.

London, Ontario
Level Contributor
1,361 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: Toronto/Niagara as a tourist destination...how it started.

Tobie...not quite correct..I detest 'the other London' really. Give me Lisbon, or Rome, or Athens anytime; or if the UK, then Yorkshire or Cornwall. Of course, there are lots of things to see in and around Toronto. But we seem to be dealing with people who get off a plane for a week in Toronto/Niagara, no time to rent a car or go anywhere else.

As far as Niagara Falls being a touristy place for eons. Maybe 50 years or so. As a new lad in Canada, I first saw the falls in the early 50's. In those days you could park at Table Rock, step onto the curb and stand by the wall and look over all within 5 seconds. No Clifton Hill etc..it was the falls and a few other things. What really drives me bomkers on here is people who post looking for the "closest Irish Pub" to their hotel.

Toronto, Canada
Destination Expert
for Toronto, Isla de Vieques
Level Contributor
4,184 posts
61 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Toronto/Niagara as a tourist destination...how it started.

It's disappointing that more people don't appreciate the privilege of travelling, expecting instead that they should be entertained.

I hang around the Buenos Aires forum quite a bit, and the local experts there were recently asked by a poster to advise on their favourite "off the beaten path" locations. Every single one of them said "hop on a bus, go to a neighbourhood & discover your own Buenos Aires" (I thought they could have offered up a few suggestions, but their point was taken- do some research, explore, taste, scratch beneatth the surface & form your own memories.)

Contrast that with the incredible wealth of information that floods out of the Toronto Local Experts & other regular posters & it's hard to understand how anyone could claim to find nothing of interest here unless they were plain lazy. (maybe Torontonians are too helpful!)

There have been several recent cases of visitors who have used this forum to dig really deep & their follow-up trip reports have shown how rewarded they were by their research efforts (even the poor folks who had their bikes stolen yet made the best of it)

I suppose it's really about how you approach life- are you passive or engaged?

my $.02

Bruce

Toronto
Level Contributor
1,401 posts
62 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Toronto/Niagara as a tourist destination...how it started.

I have to agree with Bruce and John's post. Many many tourists want to travel and have attractions jump out at them. They don't want to explore, they want to be entertained. They don't even consider the idea of discovering a place as the locals see it. These types will be disappointed with anything that isn't a cruise ship. My husband and I love discovering what is native to an area, and we can appreciate seeing something *different*, even if we aren't overwhelmed. We recently took a trip to Hawaii, and saw a lot of dumpy little towns, but we weren't bored by them, it was an education.

London, Canada
Level Contributor
3,759 posts
69 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Toronto/Niagara as a tourist destination...how it started.

I think one of the problems UK visitors in particular have is the fear of driving--- not for lack of desire--- which does keep them within the bounds of the city and environs. Walking and public transportation does still allow one to discover gems in the city if they take the time.

Heading down unknown roads and streets (in the daylight!) wherever you are can lead you to some of the best experiences when travelling.

But there is a compromise for most people between the familiar and the unknown that we have to appreciate when giving advice. Nice to hear the Toronto forum usually comes through on that account.

This discussion reminds me of the restaurant scene in Shirley Valentine.......

Toronto
Level Contributor
495 posts
Save Reply
7. Re: Toronto/Niagara as a tourist destination...how it started.

My two cents is that Toronto is unlike almost every other major city because a large portion of the visitors to the city are visiting relatives. Thus, many people find Toronto as dull, being that the same people are shuffled to the same attractions. Hey, after working in the CN Tower, I haven't been back. I don't think I could go back.

Toronto has the largest or one of the largest populations of many ethic groups, and as such, the neighborhoods are much more vibrant than in many cities. Yes other cities have Chinatowns, Little Italies, Greektowns, etc... but it's the relationship that all the people in Toronto have compared to other cities that makes us unique.

Toronto is unique because of the extensive mix of communities, yet there isn't a fixed boundary where people live.

PS: the Eiffel Tower was "fabricated" and people hated it, and still do. What's your point?

Toronto, Canada
Destination Expert
for Toronto
Level Contributor
3,026 posts
88 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Toronto/Niagara as a tourist destination...how it started.

I've always told visitors that Toronto is a place for people who prefer digging beneath the surface of a place and trying to live like a local. I would never leave my home town as I find it one of the best places to live, but I have to agree that it is sorely lacking in "big ticket" attractions. That's fine by me as I'd hate to see our city overcrowded and overpriced like NYC, San Fran, London or Paris. It's nice to go for brunch in Leslieville and not have to stand there for hours to get a seat, so hopefully Toronto will keep doing what it does best, welcoming the world to live here, it's what gives us our character as a city, the people, like anywhere else, it's the thing you remember most.

9. Re: Toronto/Niagara as a tourist destination...how it started.

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 09 September 2009, 07:18