Shortly after 9/11, 1000 Torontonians went down to NYC and booked tickets for Mamma Mia on Broadway. The 1,000 Torontonians wanted to celebrate NYC. They also wanted to support an industry and NYC tradition deeply affected by the terrorist attacks.
Every summer, Toronto depends on millions of tourists who come to our city from all over the world, and especially from neighbouring US states, to enjoy the museums, the galleries, the ball games, the restaurants and our own thriving, vibrant theatre district. This year, the stigma of SARS -- a disease that is far less lethal than influenza and perhaps less sinister than the West Nile virus -- has left us off the tourist trail. Or restaurants are struggling, our theatres are empty and numerous Asian-Torontonian small businesses -- restaurants and take-outs -- are suffering potentially irrevocable damage.
While one must exercise caution in the face of the unknown, may I appeal to you to view the SARS situation in Toronto in the same reasonable light as the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), who have sent experts to this city to evaluate the crisis, and who concluded in a statement made on Thursday, the 24th of April, that a travel advisory for Toronto was neither warranted, nor would it be of any value.
According to a story published by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the CDC is not warning U.S. citizens against going to Toronto. "We understand the patterns of transmission in Toronto," said Dr. Julie Gerberding of the CDC. "They make sense, the epidemiologic picture is complete and there's no suggestion that a traveller going to Toronto is inadvertently coming into contact with a SARS patient. ... Our understanding of the information we have available right now is that U.S. citizens travelling to Canada are not at risk for SARS if they stay out of hospitals and follow some common sense precautions."
If you or your friends were planning a summer trip to Toronto, please don't let the stigma of SARS be an impediment. In the spirit of the 1,000 Torontonians who partied in NYC after 9/11, please do visit us this summer: enjoy Canada, enjoy Toronto, and most importantly, enjoy yourselves!