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The Rolling Stones started up Toronto's economy after all, to the tune of more than $75-million, according to new data from Canada's largest processor of credit- and debit-card transactions.

Nearly all industries associated with tourism saw significant boosts in spending during the days surrounding last week's megaconcert, with the city's restaurants embracing a nearly 60-per-cent jump in business compared to the week before the show.

"Ecstatic, just ecstatic," said concert organizer and Toronto-Danforth MP Dennis Mills, when told of the analysis of the debit and credit transactions. The study of transactions was conducted between July 27 and Aug. 2 by Monteris Solutions, Canada's largest processor of such data, and revealed a $75.2-million increase in spending from the week before.

"The Toronto economy has really been bumbling along for the past few months because of SARS," said Monteris spokesman Kevin Tait. "And to spike up by about $75-million definitely showed that the Stones have made an impact."

According to the Monteris data, the extra money was spent where it was most needed, with restaurants, the travel and entertainment sector, hotels and retailers -- the industries hit hardest by the decline in tourism brought on by the SARS crisis -- getting the bulk of the influx of cash.

Restaurants, which were hit especially hard by the crisis over severe acute respiratory syndrome, saw spending volumes rise by 59.2 per cent, a nearly $21-million increase from the previous week.

"What was really important for the city, and where we were really happy to see the numbers go up was in the travel and entertainment industry," Mr. Tait said. "Restaurants in particular just blew us away. That number is staggering."

The travel and entertainment industry, which includes spending on things such as taxis and buses, as well as nightclubs, movie theatres and other attractions, rose by 20.6 per cent, an increase of $25-million from the week before.

Doing some quick calculations, Mr. Mills estimated that the federal and provincial governments would recoup about $12-million from the extra spending, more than doubling the $5-million the two governments laid out in funds to bring the Stones and their friends to town.

On the rebound

A study of debit- and credit-card spending in the GTA during the week of July 27 to Aug 2 found significant increases compared to the previous week.

Restaurants enjoyed the largest increase in business...

Restaurants...........................59.2%

Travel and entertainment sector....20.6%

Photography supply stores...........18.5%

Drug stores and pharmacies.........14.1%

Hotels...................................7.1%

Car-rental agencies...................5.1%

Retail....................................5.1%

...but the retail sector received the largest share of an estimated $75.2-million in increased revenue.

Other $12.8

Retail $39.6

Restaurants $20.9-million

Hotels $1.9-million

SOURCE: MONERIS SOLUTIONS