After months of closure, popular Toronto attractions like the Ripley Aquarium, the CN Tower and the Toronto Zoo have reopened to the public – at reduced capacity.
Thanks to pre-booking, people can now ride the treadmill under the aquarium’s sharks and stingrays and take a peek at the zoo’s multi-month-old baby tiger whose name is expected to be announced. next Thursday. (The public was allowed to vote from a list of four names: Alina, Lena, Maya, and Mila.)
“It’s a great place to come,” Mayor John Tory said on Saturday, shortly after visiting the cub.
Tory reiterated that increasing vaccination rates is the key to increasing capacity limits, but said he was “thrilled” just to see people coming back to the zoo.
“We want the whole region to be healthy, we want people to feel better,” he said, and then hopefully the city “will get back to something pretty close to normal” .
The possibility of a new normal thrilled employees at Ripley’s Aquarium, who spent months tending to the aquarium’s many residents without being able to see the joy and curiosity of onlookers.
“The thrill, the buzz and the excitement around the building last week… it was awesome,” said Peter Doyle, Ripley’s Managing Director. “We are very excited.”
This week marks the first week since November that the aquarium has hosted guests, he said.
Doyle added that the aquarium is continuing its virtual education programs, but expects the in-person restrictions to ease even further, as a significant number of aquarium visitors typically come from the United States.
Reopening these types of attractions is “a necessary first start,” said Andrew Weir, executive vice president of Destination Toronto. And as promising as it is to see so many patios filled with people, he said this was only the “most visible part” of the city’s pandemic recovery.
Before the pandemic, the city averaged around 27 million visitors a year, he said, thanks to a diverse tourism economy that includes both leisure and business, weekdays and weekends. , as well as the four seasons.
“It’s important to have a diverse base of visitors,” he said, but “it starts with us as residents going out and enjoying our city”.
Weir urged Torontonians not only to enjoy the city, but also not to hide their renewed fun through social media.
“This is how we rebuild the dynamism,” he said. “Here we have the power of six million destination marketers. “
However, Weir also warned that the road to recovery for a city like Toronto will be long as many drivers of tourism – business meetings, conventions and the like – are not yet operational.
“In the coming months, we need to lay the groundwork to live and operate a tourism economy with COVID as part of our lives,” he said. “We know this will not go away.”