Visa International

Visa Shines the Spotlight on Toronto

San Francisco, CA and Toronto (ots) - Visa and Its Travel Partners Introduce Travel Incentives and Promotions to Revitalize Tourism in Toronto While tourism in Toronto is slowly rebounding, recent spending figures demonstrate the continued need to invest in the city to bring tourism spending back on track. To address this need, Visa is shining the spotlight on the city to revitalize the recovering tourism industry. The city's tourism industry most strongly felt the impact of SARS and other world events in April and May of 2003. During these months, hotel occupancy rates in the Greater Toronto Area, a strong indicator for tourism in the city, dropped by 19 per cent. The industry is slowly beginning to rebound, and in August, hotel occupancy rates rebounded to 64.9 per cent, a less than 10 per cent drop from 2002 hotel occupancy rates. Despite these gains, there is still a substantial amount of work required to get tourism in Toronto back to normal levels. To assist in the recovery efforts for Toronto's tourism industry, Visa has invested more than US$600,000 (nearly CDN$800,000) into promoting Toronto as a premiere travel destination. The investment includes funds allowing Visa's travel partners, such as Tourism Toronto, to offer unparalleled consumer incentives and promotions to the city's visitors. Through this investment, Visa is playing its part to revitalize Toronto's hard-hit tourism industry, and to showcase the remarkable values available in the city. A new selection of special offers and values for visitors to Toronto can be found at www.visadestinations.com/Toronto. "We want to help spread the word to international travelers that Toronto is a safe, world-class travel destination," said Rick Pyves, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Visa Canada. "With our investment into the travel industry, we're hoping to attract visitors back to Toronto so they can witness, first hand, the beauty of the city and all the wonderful experiences it has to offer." "Thanks to the support of organizations like Visa, we are seeing a definite improvement in the city's travel and entertainment industry," said Bruce MacMillan president and CEO of Tourism Toronto. "But, we still have a lot of work to do to get Toronto back on the map as a premiere travel destination, and these new incentives for travelers will go a long way in attracting travelers to our great city." In addition to the offers found at www.visadestinations.com, Visa has also allocated funds toward helping out the retail industry through a Toronto Eaton Centre promotion, encouraging retail shopping at the city's premiere shopping destination. Visa's other efforts include support for the City of Toronto's "Toronto You Belong Here" campaign, and the creation of the "Break Away to Toronto" promotion. As part of their efforts to revitalize tourism in Toronto, Visa has developed the "Break Away to Toronto" promotion, which offers travelers to the city very attractive travel incentives. When consumers pay with their Visa cards for stays in Toronto, they'll enjoy a range of special values at the city's finest deluxe hotels, starting at only US$91.00 (CDN$119.00). Hotels participating in the promotion are the Hilton Toronto, Sutton Place Hotel, InterContinental Toronto, Le Royal Meridien King Edward, the Fairmont Royal York, the InterContinental Toronto Centre, and the Soho Metropolitan Hotel. Visa is promoting these great offers to the rest of the world by featuring these ads in major newspapers and magazines including the International Herald Tribune, Conde Nast Traveler, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and others. Visa-sponsored advertising signage will also be featured at New York's JFK International Airport and Miami International Airport. About Visa Visa is the world's leading payment brand generating US$2.7 trillion in annual card sales volume. Visa has unsurpassed acceptance in more than 150 countries. The Visa organization plays a pivotal role in developing innovative payment products and technologies to benefit its 21'000 member financial institutions and their cardholders. Visa is a leader in Internet based payments and is pioneering the creation of u-commerce, or universal commerce -- the ability to conduct commerce anywhere, anytime, and any way. For more information, visit www.corporate.visa.com. ots Originaltext: Visa International Internet: www.newsaktuell.ch Contact: Michael T. Sherman Visa International Tel. + 1-650-432-3923 E-Mail: sherman@visa.com Norbert Beatty GCI Group Tel. +1-212-537-8131 E-Mail: nbeatty@gcigroup.com Mei Velasquez Visa Canada Tel. +1-416-860-8869 E-Mail: mvelasqu@visa.com

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