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Features

Q&A: Michele L Simpson

Michele, media relations manager, joined Tourism Toronto in April 2006. She manages Tourism Toronto’s relationship with overseas media, particularly in the UK, Germany, France, Spain, China, Japan and India. She works with media markets to increase awareness of Toronto as a world-class destination.

What was your first job?

My first job was as a coordinator at one of the top five global PR agencies that had a Toronto office. I provided support to the corporate, consumer and healthcare teams. I learned a great deal about those industries and a lot professionally from some very driven and talented people.
 
How did you get into travel and tourism?
A former colleague put my name forward to a search executive. At the time, I was working for a hospital with no interest in leaving, but the more I met with the team at Tourism Toronto, it quickly became clear that my future dream job was right there in front of me.
 
What’s the best thing about your job?
I’m extremely passionate about Toronto. I love this city and it’s an honour every time I get to design a media itinerary or visit that will best showcase what this dynamic and creative city has to offer.
 
What does a trip to Toronto offer that no other destination does?
Toronto offers so many things to so many different people. Great restaurants, live music, shopping, sports and access to must-attend events — Toronto delivers exactly what visitors desire. 
 
Where do you like to go on holiday?
Because a lot of my professional travel is outside Canada to places in Europe and Asia, I like to holiday in Canada. It’s a massive country with drastically different things to see and do in every region — everything from stunning nature to vibrant cities.

What’s been your best professional decision?
To make my passion into my job. Growing up near Toronto, I was seduced by the city and have never regretted taking on the role of travelling the world to share how great a place this is.

Is there any other career you would have liked?
No, I’ve been very fortunate to find and fall in love with a career that challenged me, allowed me to grow professionally, and at times personally, and let me see the world.

What advice would you give your younger self about your career?

Go for it. Don’t let fear or self doubt stop you from taking on great experiences. Try to stay present and really enjoy and appreciate the experiences. Take every opportunity to travel so that you can best cater for guests when they visit you. Always remember — your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.

What are some of the best opportunities facing the industry?
Ensuring we inspire young and fresh talent to join and sustain the industry is a must. To stand out, whether you’re a destination or a hotel, you need excellent staff who care about guests. Investment in training is imperative, and education in the community about the true value of tourism to the economy. With the promise of greater growth in emerging markets, such as China, Asia and the Middle East, it’s vital we craft our tourism messages and package products to appeal to them.

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