How Vaughan is Growing its Tourism Sector

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World-class attractions and a combined 16 hotels and motels are driving factors.

Vaughan is a thriving tourist hub thanks to the huge draws of attractions like Canada’s Wonderland, Vaughan Mills, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, the Kortright Centre for Conservation and North Maple Regional Park, to name a few. That can only grow with a new tourism promotion organization and investments in existing attractions.

In 2018, the combined accommodations, food services, arts, entertainment and recreation sectors accounted for 1,085 businesses, employing more than 21,500 people and generating $479 million in GDP.

The City of Vaughan has implemented a four per cent municipal accommodation tax (MAT) on overnight stays that is expected to raise about $3.3 million a year.

The City has established the Tourism Vaughan Corporation as a destination
marketing organization that will receive 50 per cent of the MAT revenues to attract visitors, encourage investment in tourism amenities and grow the sector.

There are 16 hotels and motels in Vaughan, with three development
applications approved by Council. That includes a 125-175-room Hyatt-branded hotel planned for construction at Canada’s Wonderland in 2021 or 2022.

“Visitors discover we have exceptional welcoming citizens, terrific international cuisine, great trails and parks, and impressive arts amenities,” said Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua. He highlights the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, the historic communities of Kleinburg and Woodbridge, and the Kortright Centre for Conservation.

Canada’s largest theme park

At 3.79 million visitors in 2018, according to industry reports, Canada’s
was number 13 on the list of the most-attended parks in North America and ranked as the top seasonal park. Canada’s Wonderland is tied for the second most roller coasters in the world.

Canada’s largest amusement park continually adds rides, shows and
entertainment most recently the Yukon Striker, the fastest, longest and tallest dive coaster in the world, said Dave Phillips, vice-president of marketing and sales at Canada’s Wonderland. Next year the park will add a cliff-jumping attraction to its water park and an airplane ride to one of
its children’s areas.

The park offers a month-long Halloween Haunt and this year will hold its first WinterFest, a holiday-themed event that will extend the park’s season to the end of December.

The park opened on 330 acres in 1981, surrounded by farm fields. It was the first major theme park in Canada and has been owned by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company since 2006.

“We’ve grown alongside Vaughan and the GTA. Any way you leave the park now, it’s business and residential development,” said Phillips.

Cirque du Soleil Creactive: A new name in family fun

Vaughan Mills, a 1.3-million-squarefoot mall just a kilometre south of Canada’s Wonderland, attracts more than 14 million shoppers a year. It’s anchored by Bass Pro Shops among its 245 stores, and also features Canada’s first LEGOLAND Discovery Centre.

Coming in 2020, Vaughan Mills Shopping Centre will be home to Cirque du Soleil Creactive, a family entertainment centre that offers acrobatic, artistic and other Cirque du Soleilinspired recreational activities.

“It will be like going behind the curtain and experiencing what it’s like to be an artist at Cirque du Soleil,” said producer Marie-Josée Lamy. That will include bungee jumping, circus activities, parkour, juggling, dance, makeup and mask design, and virtual reality activities.

One such activity remains true to the Cirque du Soleil experience. “Families will get a chance to become a character and be on stage and get applause from a crowd,” said Lamy. “It’s a great connection to our brand and makes the experience participative versus being a spectator.”

Vaughan is the ideal place for the first ever Cirque du Soleil Creactive, says
Lamy. “When we were evaluating the business case, Vaughan ticked all the boxes in terms of the number of visitors, its location and the local population.

Vaughan Mills, Canada’s Wonderland and LEGOLAND already make it a tourist destination.”