Destination Toronto looks to kickstart tourism with ‘Never Have I Ever, TO’

Who: Destination Toronto with Bensimon Byrne, and assistance from the City of Toronto, various BIAs and businesses across the tourism and hospitality industry.

What: “Never Have I Ever, TO” a recovery focused marketing campaign aimed at both locals and tourists from regional drive markets. Inspired by the game of the same name, it is encouraging people to try various experiences across the city and inspire others to do the same by posting to social using the hashtag #NeverHaveIEverTO.

When & Where: The $4.2 million campaign launched Aug. 17 and runs through Oct. 30 across TV, social media and out-of-home. There’s also a dedicated hub within the Destination Toronto website, as well as a mobile-based My Toronto Pass with various offers including admission discounts for local attractions.

Why: The campaign arrives during what Destination Toronto calls a “critically needed reopening and recovery” for the city’s tourism and hospitality industry. Like every tourist destination worldwide, Toronto has been struggling to recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic.

After setting a record in 2019 with 28.1 million visitors injecting an estimated $6.7 billion into the city’s economy, a Destination Toronto report earlier this year said that the drop in tourism and hospitality spending cost the city $8.35 billion last year, a number that balloons to more than $14 billion when factoring in the Greater Toronto Area.

How: The creative urges Torontonians and people in neighbouring cities to look at the city with fresh eyes, with a 30-second hero spot featuring messages around “Never have I ever” moments, such as “had a taco for dessert” or “lived life on the edge.”

There are also a series of 20 six- and 15-second videos dedicated to specific tourism-related features, such as hotels, neighbourhoods, dining and attractions. Finally, there is a 45-second video featuring Toronto mayor John Tory doing something he’s never done in the city, take in the CN Tower’s EdgeWalk attraction.

And we quote: “Never Have I Ever, TO” is part of a citywide conversation to get Toronto back on its feet by encouraging all of us to take a fresh look at our own city and explore Toronto’s unique experiences. There is no full economic recovery until travel returns, and that recovery starts with us. It’s time for locals and visitors from nearby cities to take in the experiences we may have walked by time and time again, or to rediscover the experiences we’ve missed since the start of the pandemic.” — Scott Beck, president and CEO, Destination Toronto


Chris Powell