With travel advisory gone, Canadians urge tourism

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 30, 2003

TORONTO (AP) - Bidding farewell to a SARS travel warning against its biggest city, Canada launched a series of steps to lure back tourists including 69-cent tickets to see Toronto's professional baseball team.

A packed house Tuesday night for the Blue Jays game against the Texas Rangers at Skydome signaled the aggressive marketing coming from all levels of government and the Toronto business community.

Most seats were sold for one Canadian dollar, or 69 U.S. cents.

Email newsletter signup

Other measures announced or proposed so far include waiving hotel taxes for the summer in Ontario province, dinner-theater-baseball-hotel packages at reduced prices from Toronto's top producers, and a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign.

''I think that the people of Toronto, the people of Ontario and the people of Canada are very happy,'' Prime Minister Jean Chretien said in Parliament after the World Health Organization lifted its advisory against nonessential travel to Toronto due to SARS.

The WHO warning lumped Toronto with SARS hot spots in Asia such as Beijing and Hong Kong, and enraged Canadian officials who called it unwarranted and damaging to the economy.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome has sickened more than 140 people, killing 21, in the Toronto area. The WHO travel advisory issued April 23 caused the cancellation of conventions, concerts and other events, harming the convention and tourism industry that is crucial to the city and Ontario economy.