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BIAs and Tourism Development

A photo of the Toronto skyline during the day with Lake Ontario in the foreground

About the Project

Researchers at the Institute continue to conduct studies on the visitor economy and Main Street neighbourhoods. Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) are associations that represent their communities, tasked with beautification and promotion of the local neighbourhood. Part of many BIAs' activities includes attracting and welcoming visitors from outside their community to shop, stroll, and raise the profile of the local area. However, very little research has been conducted on organizations like BIAs, and their role and opportunity to influence and manage the visitor economy to meet their goals and encourage local economic and cultural vitality. The studies below summarize research conducted in this broad area.

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The Visitor Economy and Main Streets in a post-pandemic world (April 2021)

This study summarizes interviews with 47 people that represent BIAs and related organizations across Canada on how the visitor economy has played a role in post-pandemic activity, and opportunities for future development. Dr. Walter Jamieson ( is working on a handbook to provide professionals and Main Street leaders with user-friendly frameworks, advice, and tools to plan and position their districts from a tourism economy and heritage planning perspective. Please contact him for more information and sign up for our Institute newsletter, external link, opens in new window to stay up to date on our ongoing projects.

Toronto BIAs' responses to COVID-19 (October 2020)

Over the summer of 2020, a team of student researchers reviewed the responses of Toronto BIAs to the COVID-19 pandemic, and categorised the different reactions and initiatives to help businesses recover.

Toronto BIAs and Tourism (July 2020)

Toronto is a city of neighbourhoods, and its diversity and culture are created by the residents and their local communities. There are 82 Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) across the city. This exploratory study interviewed 37 people from 29 BIAs in Toronto and considers best practices and opportunities. 

About the Researchers

Dr. Tom Griffin, opens in new window is the Assistant Director of Ryerson's Institute for Hospitality & Tourism Research and Assistant Professor of Ryerson's Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. 

Dr. Walter Jamieson is a senior advisor for the Institute for Hospitality & Tourism Research. His research interestes include tourism destination development, talent management, and service innovation and delivery.