As Ontario heads into Step Three of reopening, and pressure builds for the reopening of Canada’s borders the Ontario tourism industry prepared to dig out after being locked down for more than a year and a half.
About $16 Billion has been provided to the tourism sector by the Federal government, mainly in wage replacement. This week Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, launched $500-million in funding for the new Tourism Relief Fund.
The funding will assist tourist operators in developing their product by:
• enhancing protocols and permanent infrastructure to meet health and safety requirements
• helping operators to create innovative tourism offerings to attract local and domestic visitors;
• modernizing operations, attractions, greening initiatives, and online sales services;
• supporting local promotion of tourism products, including digital and virtual reality experiences; and
• developing capacity for more inclusive tourism experiences (e.g. staff training to ensure welcoming, inclusive environments to diverse clientele, gender-neutral washroom facilities, etc.).
Funding will also support destination development. This includes:
• providing support to local communities to develop sustainable tourism plans based on research and market analysis, and designed to rebuild tourism confidence in communities;
• equipping tourism SMEs to extend their product offering to increase visitation during the winter and shoulder season;
• supporting destinations to implement tourism plans that create or improve local assets, facilities and planning for key infrastructure;
• supporting the development and implementation of tourism economic development recovery plans that consider possible key market reactions when travel can safely resume;
• helping communities and SMEs develop experiential tourism, that will respond to visitor expectations post-COVID-19;
• implementing strategies to reactivate and animate downtown cores, main streets and business districts through activities, public art and mixed use spaces.
Indigenous communities that rely heavily on tourism have also been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. In order to close this gap, the Government of Canada is investing a minimum of $50 million of the Tourism Relief Fund in Indigenous tourism projects.
For more information visit FedDevOntario.