A year ago we won the opportunity to host TBEX in Toronto. It’s the kind of event every destination wants to host. We’d do it every year if they’d let us. At the time, TBEX was a 600-person conference growing quickly to meet the new professionalism of blogging.

Now here we are – and here all of you are, 1,200+ strong. And we simply couldn’t be more proud and honoured to be your hosts this week.

Toronto can be easily explored on foot, and just as easily by bike, streetcar, subway, boat, bus or even segway. Visit as many neighbourhoods as you can. In a city where 50 per cent of the residents were born outside of Canada, diversity is our hallmark and nowhere is it more vibrant than in Greektown, Indian Bazaar, Little Italy, Chinatown (any of them – there are five in the metro area), Little Portugal, Koreatown, as well as the Gay Village, Yorkville, Queen West, Liberty Village, Leslieville, and so on.

Today and tomorrow most TBEX delegates are taking advantage of the 75+ city tours we have made available. Those are in addition to the pre-TBEX tours offered by our partners at the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership and and the Canadian Tourism Commission.

As you explore the city, be sure to play along on the TBEX PhotoQuest game. How many of the Toronto icons can you identify, find and photograph this weekend? Check the Tourism Toronto TBEX Pinterest boards or click the above link for the icons to find and post your photos to Pinterest and Twitter.

When you’re not taking a tour you can use your VIP Attractions Passport that provides free admission to more than 20 Toronto and regional attractions. You can pick up your passports at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre today and tomorrow at the Tourism Toronto TBEX Concierge Desk.

After all the tours, things really get started with the official opening night reception hosted by Tourism Toronto where you’ll enjoy food from Toronto’s neighbourhoods, the outstanding wines of Ontario and some of Toronto’s best craft beers, plus a few surprises.

TBEX_evite

Friends, we are honoured to have you here. You are professional storytellers and we think you’ll find some exciting, one-of-a-kind and ever-changing stories here that we hope you’ll blog, tweet and generally shout about. Because it’s simply too good a story to keep to ourselves.

The Tourism Toronto team is here to assist with anything you need and answer any questions you have throughout the weekend and afterwards. And of course the many enthusiastic Toronto-based bloggers are rich troves of information and tips (and may even help you find some of the PhotoQuest icons if you ask). We look forward to an inspiring weekend and hope you’ll visit again soon.

Andrew Weir is Vice President, Communications of Tourism Toronto. Follow him at @ABWeir.