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 January 30, 2002
Ontario Invests $16.2 Million In e-Tourism Initiative

 Ontario Tourism, Culture and Recreation Minister Tim Hudak and EDS Canada have announced that Ontario is investing $16.2 million in a Tourism Consumer Information System (TCIS). The system will combine the province's call centre and tourism e-business initiatives into one integrated service. The new service will promote the Ontario brand world-wide, make information easily accessible for travelers and tourism businesses, and enhance domestic and international marketing. "Tourism is a proven performer when it comes to doing business on the Web," Hudak said. "This investment will give Ontario's industry a leg up in the online marketplace and help create jobs."

Hudak made the announcement at a gathering of over 400 tourism industry leaders who were on hand for the Minister's Tourism Forum in Toronto. The forum brought together industry leaders with representatives from government to discuss efforts aimed at positioning the industry for future growth.

EDS Canada, the successful bidder on a request for proposal issued by the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation (OTMPC), started the project in late 2001. The TCIS launches in the spring of 2002. "Ontario is investing in a world-class, fully integrated customer relationship management solution that puts the province ahead of competing jurisdictions," said George Paul, EDS Canada's Executive Vice President. "The TCIS will help people around the globe understand the Ontario experience faster and easier than ever before. It will also greatly enhance business opportunities and increase the visibility of the ministry's numerous partners in Ontario tourism."

The service incorporates and integrates a call centre, fulfillment centre, customer services database, business-to-customer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) websites.

Potential visitors using the TCIS will be able to talk to a travel counselor, order literature and access information that allows them to make travel decisions based on their own unique travel interests. Businesses participating in the TCIS will benefit from advertising that draws large numbers of visitors to the new system, enhancing the benefits they get from the marketing and advertising efforts of OTMPC.

"To remain competitive, Ontario cannot afford to overlook this potential. The TCIS will help raise the profile of Ontario as an international destination and will keep the province at the top of the list as Canada's most traveled province," said John Williams, Chair of the OTMPC Board. "More than 70 per cent of the online community have researched travel on the Web and the TCIS is an important part of the OTMPC's marketing strategy to secure Ontario's place among this community as a top tourism destination."

Ontario's investment of $16.2 million over three years pays for the design, development and operation of the system including the new call centre. The Government already has a substantial amount of tourism research that ensures the content of the new system is appropriate and relevant to potential visitors and Ontario tourism operators.

Tourism contributes an estimated $17.5 billion annually to Ontario's economy and employs nearly 450,000 people. Last week, Hudak announced that the joint tourism marketing campaigns combining hotel accommodation with entertainment in Toronto, Niagara Falls and Windsor have been very successful, resulting in bookings totalling 11,709 room nights since October 29, 2001. The government invested $3.6 million in these campaigns and is investing $10 million more in the spring and summer campaigns.