Tim Hudak addresses GTHA meeting

Tim Hudak

Tim Hudak

TORONTO—Tim Hudak, leader of Ontario's Progressive Conservative opposition party, addressed the 39th Annual General Meeting of the Greater Toronto Hotel Association at One King West Hotel and Residence on June 5. Debt incurred by the current Liberal government was a major theme of his speech, and one of the most dramatic images in his powerpoint presentation was that a of baby born in 2013, who would have the burden of $20,000 in provincial debt on her shoulders, compared to $11,000 for a baby born 10 years ago.

“We
have to spend within our means,” Hudak told the assembled group of
hoteliers. “We have $11 billion in debt payments with the current
government—that's debt interest alone with low interest rates.”

If
we added one per cent to the interest, that would mean $500 million more in
debt interest per year—equal to 250 MRI scans, or 12 times what the Ontario
Tourism Marketing Partnership spends on tourism marketing, Hudak noted.

At
the same meeting, outgoing board members Paul Verciglio, David Ogilvie and
Dermot McKeown were honoured for their years of service to the association.

Verciglio,
who retired as general manager of the Park Hyatt Toronto in February, served on
the board from 1999-2003, and was known as the “contrarian voice on the
board,” said GTHA chair Robert Housez.

Ogilvie
left Starwood Hotels & Resorts earlier this year, and stepped down as chair
of Tourism Toronto last year, although he still plays a big role in Tourism
Toronto. “I'm taking six months off, but I will be back,” Ogilvie
told the crowd as he accepted his award.

McKeown
was on the board for 10 years, and served as secretary-treasurer. Housez
described him as “a very sage and wise person.”

In
his chairman's address, Housez called the hotel sector “significant, but
frequently underappreciated,” noting that the association represents 170
hotels, accounting for 36,000 rooms, employing 32,000 people, and bringing in
$4.5 billion in revenue each year. Tourism itself accounts for four per cent of
the province's GDP, employs nine per cent of its population, and accounts for
17 per cent of provincial business.

Tourism
is clearly a vital economic component, and the need for tourism funding is a
critical priority, Housez noted.