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Revellers smile as they march down Yonge Street during the annual Pride Parade in Toronto on Sunday, June 28, 2009.

Nathan Denette/Canadian Press

Toronto's Pride Week is more than just a chance to have fun and celebrate diversity. It also has a major economic impact on the city, a new study says.

According to figures released by Pride Toronto today, Pride Week 2009 brought an estimated $136-million to the city despite the event happening in the midst of the summer garbage strike.

That's up from $99.1-million generated from Pride Week 2006, the last year for which figures were immediately available.

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"These economic benefits are exceptional," said Michael Harker of Enigma Research Corporation, which conducted the 2009 economic impact study for Pride Toronto. "The estimates are considerably higher than we have seen at many similar sized festivals and sporting events throughout North America."

According to the study, $33-million was spent at restaurants and bars across the city, while $12-million was spent on Toronto hotels.

Of the total, $94.3-million came from tourists visiting Toronto from over 80 kilometres away. A survey conducted during Pride Week 2009 found that 80 per cent of those surveyed said they are "very likely" to return to the city for Pride Week 2010.

Pride Toronto will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year.

"Planning for 2010 is already well underway," said Tracey Sandilands, executive director of Pride Toronto. "Current plans include expanding of the festival site to include Queens Park, adding two new stages and beverage gardens, revamping the market place and the affiliate events program and holding year-round Pride."

Toronto is also set to host WorldPride 2014, awarded to the city this year by the InterPride organization in St. Petersburg, Fla. An even larger economic boost can be expected then.

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