TORONTO - The dollar's parity may have put a pinch in the travel plans of Americans, so Toronto tourism officials are going after people with pounds and pesos.

Affluent Mexicans and Britons are the targets of new international ad campaigns announced Tuesday by Tourism Toronto and the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corp.

"This is part of our strategy to reach more high-value customers -- people that will stay longer, spend more when they're here, take advantage of what Toronto really offers a visitor,'' said Andrew Weir, vice-president of communications for Tourism Toronto, an industry association of more than 1,100 members.

"More and more the success of the tourism industry in Toronto will rest on our ability to reach more of these high-value customers.''

Previous campaigns in the United Kingdom have been successful, said Weir, noting a trend there for spring and fall getaways that might only last four days and three nights.

"They'll hop on a plane, spend a few days in a city, indulge and shop, things like that, and then head back again. And we're trying to tap into that market.''

The U.K. is Toronto's largest overseas tourist market, and has grown from 263,000 overnight visitors in 2004 to about 280,000 visitors in 2006, Weir said.

The ad campaigns are costing approximately $750,000 in the U.K. and about $400,000 to $450,000 in Mexico, he said.

The campaigns promote Canada's largest city as a vibrant, exciting, high-end destination, and involve a range of media, including illuminated posters in transit stations in the U.K., radio campaigns in both countries and eight-page inserts in major newspapers.

In 2006, there were 65,000 overnight visitors from Mexico to Toronto, up from 46,000 in 2000.

For the Mexican market, Tourism Toronto has also launched a new Spanish language website at

Previously, the industry launched websites in Japanese, Chinese and Korean, and they've had well over a million hits, Weir said.

"The strategy to reach out more aggressively overseas is in part in response to what we're seeing in the U.S., where there are some challenges.''

Besides the value of the dollar, these include changes to passport rules, with Americans sometimes confused about what documents they require to re-enter the United States after visiting Canada.

In addition, there's greater competition for tourist dollars. For instance, Weir noted that someone living in Buffalo, N.Y., can fly to Los Angeles for $99.

Overnight stays by U.S. visitors to Toronto have declined somewhat over the past seven or eight years, Weir noted.

"We continue to market very aggressively in the U.S., also trying to reach these high-value travellers,'' he said.

"But overseas travel is the real success story in the last number of years to Toronto.''

In addition to the U.K. and Mexico, he said there has been growth in the number of travellers from Japan, Germany and China.