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Industry Updates

Ontario Announces Plan for Staycation Tax Credit

November 4, 2021 - 

To help the tourism and hospitality sectors recover, and encourage Ontario families to explore the province, the Province of Ontario is proposing a new temporary Ontario Staycation Tax Credit for 2022. Anyone planning a getaway within the province in the 2022 tax year could be eligible under the new Ontario Staycation Tax Credit program. 

Ontarians would get a 20 per cent personal income tax credit on eligible accommodation between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, up to a maximum of $1,000 for an individual and $2,000 for a family, for a maximum credit of $200 or $400 respectively. Ontario residents could apply for this refundable credit when they file their 2022 personal tax returns and benefit even if they do not owe any tax.

According to the government, an eligible accommodation expense would have to be:

  • For a stay of less than a month at an eligible accommodation such as a hotel, motel, resort, lodge, bed-and-breakfast establishment, cottage or campground in Ontario
  • For a stay between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022
  • Incurred for leisure
  • Paid by the Ontario tax filer, their spouse or common-law partner, or their eligible child, as set out on a detailed receipt
  • Not reimbursed to the tax filer, their spouse or common-law partner, or their eligible child, by any person, including by a friend or an employer
  • Subject to Goods and Services Tax (GST)/Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), as set out on a detailed receipt.

The credit would provide an estimated $270 million to support over one-and-a-half million families to further discover Ontario. The credit would provide an estimated $270 million to support over one-and-a-half million families to further discover Ontario, the government said.

 Plan to Safely Reopen Ontario Announced

October 22, 2021 - 

As of October 25, 2021, Ontario will be removing capacity limits where proof of vaccination is required. This will include settings like restaurants, bars, sports facilities, casinos, and indoor meeting and event spaces, which will be able to operate at 100% capacity as of October 25. The physical distancing requirement between patrons and the 2m distancing requirement between tables at restaurants and event spaces will also be removed as of Monday.  

Other settings/businesses will be permitted to reopen at 100% indoor capacity if they decide to “opt-in” to the proof of vaccination certificate program. Businesses that do not “opt-in", face gradual reopening between January and March 2022 when the vaccine passport is gradually rescinded. Businesses and organizations can choose to: 

  1. Require patrons to show proof of vaccination in order to lift all indoor capacity and physical distancing requirements in their settings; or
  2. Not require patrons to show proof of vaccination and continue to operate with their current indoor Step 3 capacity and physical distancing limits. 

Businesses or organization can choose to “opt-in” to the vaccine certificate program on a frequency of their choice including daily (except for religious services, rites or ceremonies which will be event specific). Businesses who “opt-in” to the vaccine certificate program will also be able to remove the physical distancing requirement.  

Active screening is still in place for settings with full capacity, as well as contact tracing. There will be a signage requirement for “opt-in” settings as they will be required to notify patrons that they are participating in the proof of vaccination certificate program (this needs to be made clear at the business’s point of entry).  

Step 3 outdoor capacity limits remain the same and retail businesses will not be able to “opt-in” to proof of vaccination certificate program – they will remain at Step 3.  

Below is the outline for the lifting of measures from Fall 2021 to Spring 2022 with the intention for all regulated measures to be lifted no later than March 28, 2022.  

As of October 25th, 2021 

Removing capacity limits where proof of vaccination is required, this includes: 

  • Restaurants and bars; 
  • Sports and recreational fitness facilities; waterparks, and physical fitness training; 
  • Casinos, bingo halls, and other gaming establishments; and 
  • Meeting and indoor event spaces 

Other settings will be permitted to remove capacity limits if they require (I.e., opt-in to) proof of vaccination, including but not limited to: 

  • Locations where a wedding, funeral, or religious service or rite or ceremony takes place 
  • Personal care services (e.g., barber shops, salons, body art) 
  • Indoor areas of museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions (indoor only) 
  • Indoor areas or amusement parks 
  • Indoor areas of fairs, rural exhibitions, festivals 
  • Indoor tour and guide services 
  • Boat tours 
  • Indoor areas or marinas and boating clubs 
  • Indoor clubhouses at outdoor recreational amenities 
  • Open house events provided by real estate agencies 
  • Indoor areas of photography studios and services 

Full regulations regarding ‘opt-in’ settings and requirements are available here

As of November 11th, 2021 

Removing capacity limits in high-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required, this includes: 

  • Food or drink establishments with dance facilities (e.g., night clubs, wedding receptions in meeting and event spaces where there is dancing); 
  • Strip clubs; and 
  • Bathhouses and sex clubs 

As of November 15th, 2021 to January 12th, 2022 

  • The provincial government will review the impact of the winter holidays, returning to school in January, etc.  

Winter 2021-2022 

In the absence of concerning trends, Ontario will initiate gradual lifting of CMOH (Chief Medical Officer of Health) directives, capacity limits in settings where proof of vaccination is not required, and also lift vaccine certificate requirements as follows: 

As of January 17th, 2022 

  • Restaurants and bars 
  • Sports and recreational fitness facilities (e.g., gyms) and waterparks 
  • Casinos, bingo halls, etc. 

As of February 7th, 2022 

  • Night clubs 
  • Strip clubs 
  • Bathhouses and sex clubs 

As of March 28th, 2022 

  • Meeting and event spaces 
  • Sporting events 
  • Concerts, theatres and cinemas 
  • Racing venues 
  • Commercial and film productions with studio audiences  

March 28th, 2022 and onwards  

  • All remaining public health and workplace safety measures in businesses and organizations lifted, including masking 
  • Revoke public health Emergency Orders under the Reopening Ontario Act 
  • Release guidance for specific settings if appropriate 

Ontario will continue monitor key public health and health system indicators to identify changes that pose risk to Ontarians.

To learn more about Ontario's plan to reopen, visit the Ontario Newsroom.

Details on Ontario’s Enhanced COVID-19 Vaccine Certificate  

September 1, 2021 -

Ontario is currently in the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. To curb the spread of the Delta variant and keep businesses open, the Government of Ontario is introducing an enhanced COVID-19 vaccine certificate system. Starting September 22, Ontarians will need to be fully vaccinated (2 doses plus 14 days) and provide proof of vaccination along with photo ID to access higher-risk indoor public settings and facilities where face coverings cannot always be worn.  

  • September 22 – October 21: Proof of Immunization Required
  • From September 22 to October 21: Ontarians will need to present their COVID-19 vaccine receipt (paper copy or PDF copy on a mobile device) along with photo ID in order to enter the higher-risk indoor settings outlined below. These documents must be presented when entering the establishment – they cannot be pre-displayed in advance of entering.
  • From October 22 Onwards: Digital COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate and Verification App. COVID-19 vaccination certificates will be issued to Ontarians by the province and will include a unique QR code containing similar information as the current paper/PDF certificate. This digital QR code system aims to protect data privacy by limiting the personal health information displayed (e.g., displaying a simple yes/no plus name when scanned). It will incorporate standard technology to enable it to be read across jurisdictions outside of Ontario and to make it interoperable with the federal vaccine passport for international travel. To reduce the burden on businesses, the province is also developing an app for businesses to scan the QR code on a holder’s vaccine certificate and to verify the contents of the QR code. This app will be ready by October. 
  • Starting October 22 (once the QR code verification app launches): organizations and venues will scan the unique QR codes on vaccine certificates to verify their authenticity. Individuals can print their vaccine certificate or store it on their mobile device to be presented when entering the establishment – the vaccine certificate cannot be pre-displayed in advance of entering. The province will be establishing exception processes for clients with red and white health cards, or clients who have a photo health card but did not provide it at the time of vaccination. 
Where Proof of Vaccination Will Be Required:  
  • Restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios, delivery, and takeout) 
  • Night clubs (including outdoor areas of the establishment) 
  • Meeting and event spaces (e.g. banquet halls and conference/convention centres) 
  • Facilities used for sports and fitness activities and personal fitness training (e.g. gyms, fitness and recreational facilities with the exception of youth recreational sport) 
  • Sporting events  
  • Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments  
  • Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas  
  • Strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs  
  • Racing venues (e.g. horse racing) 

Proof of vaccination requirements will apply only to customers, not staff.  

Where Proof of Vaccination Will NOT Be Required: 

  • Outdoor settings where the risk of transmission is lower, including patios (except for nightclubs) 
  • Retail shopping  
  • Personal services  
  • Accessing government services  
  • Workplace settings  

Exemptions No one will be prevented from accessing necessary medical care, food from grocery stores, basic medical supplies or other essentials based on vaccination status. Unvaccinated people with medical exemptions and children under age 12 will be permitted to enter settings requiring proof of vaccination. A negative COVID-19 test or recent COVID-19 infection will not enable a person to enter the above settings.  *For indoor wedding and funeral receptions taking place between September 22 and October 12, a negative rapid antigen COVID-19 test taken no more than 48 hours before the event will be accepted.

Obtaining Your Vaccine Receipt – Ontarians  Ontarians currently have access to paper/PDF receipt that includes all their clinical vaccination information. This receipt includes the user’s name, date of birth, the last 4 digits of the user’s health card, date of vaccination dose, vaccination type, and authorizing organization. Individuals with a green photo OHIP card can also log in to the provincial portal to download or print an electronic COVID-19 vaccine receipt (PDF). Individuals will need their green photo OHIP card, date of birth, and postal code. If you have a red and white health card, please call the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900 to receive a copy of your vaccination receipt by email.  Those who received their first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine out-of-province should contact their local public health unit to record their information and receive proper documentation. For questions about how to access vaccination record, Ontarians can contact the Provincial Vaccine Information Line at 1-888-999-6488 (for people who are deaf, hearing-impaired or speech-impaired: 1-888-797-0007). Information is available in more than 300 languages and the line is available 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week.  

Obtaining Your Vaccine Receipt - Out-of-Province and International Visitors  Those who received their first or second dose of a WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccine out-of-province should contact their local public health unit to record their information and receive proper documentation.  

Enforcement The province will use the reopening framework to support enforcement. Warnings followed by penalties will be issued to individuals and businesses contravening these regulations. Fines will be issued for fraud and impersonation (up to $750 for individuals and higher amounts for businesses). MLTSD (Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development) and law officers will enforce these regulations.   

Ministry of Health Proposes Amendments to O Reg. 364/20

July 9, 2021 -

The Ministry of Health is proposing amendments to O Reg. 364/20 to set out the public health and workplace safety measures for Step 3 of the Roadmap to Reopen. This includes but is not limited to (all with additional restrictions): 

Social gatherings and organized public events 

  • Maximum 25 people indoors 
  • Maximum 100 people outdoors 

Restaurants, bars, food trucks, and other food or drink establishments 

  • Indoor and outdoor capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres of physical distance  

Food and drink establishments with dance floors (including night clubs and resto bars) 

  • Limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres of physical distance with a maximum capacity of 50% indoors and 50% outdoors 
  • No limits to the number of patrons per table 
  • Buffets permitted  
  • Karaoke permitted with restrictions 
  • Dancing is permitted with restrictions 

Retail Stores 

  • Essential and non-essential retail limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres of physical distance 

Wedding, funeral or religious service, rite, or ceremony 

  • For the ceremony itself:  
  • Capacity is limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres physical distance  
  • For social gatherings associated with the ceremony (e.g., receptions): 
  • Maximum 25 people indoors  
  • Maximum 100 people outdoors  

Indoor and outdoor meeting and event spaces  

  • Capacity is limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres physical distance  
  • Maximum 50% capacity up to 1,000 people indoors 
  • Maximum 75% capacity up to 5,000 people outdoors 

Facilities used for indoor or outdoor sports and recreational fitness activities 

  • Maximum 50% capacity for indoor facilities  
  • Personal trainers and sports trainers permitted with physical distancing and other restrictions  
  • Spectators limited to 50% of the indoor seating capacity for up to 1,000 people; masks are required   
  • Spectators limited to 50% of outdoor seating capacity for up to 10,000 people, and other restrictions; masks are required except for members of the same household seated together  
  • Sports permitted without restrictions on contact 

Day and overnight camps 

Hotels, motels, and short-term rentals 

  • Permitted to open 
  • On-premise indoor fitness or indoor recreational facilities permitted to open with maximum 50% capacity limit 


  • Permitted to open 
  • On-premise indoor fitness or indoor recreational facilities permitted to open with maximum 50% capacity limit 

Museums, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, gardens, and similar attractions  

  • Permitted to operate with: 
  • Indoor capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres’ physical distance, with a maximum capacity of 50%  
  • Maximum 75% capacity outdoors  

Concert venues, cinemas, and theatres 

  • Maximum 50% capacity indoors, up to 1000 people 
  • An outdoor seated concert, event, or performance or movie within a concert venue, theatre or cinema is permitted to operate at a maximum capacity of: 
  • Maximum 75% capacity outdoors, or up to 15,000 people (seated) 
  • Maximum 75% capacity outdoors, or 5000 people (non-seated) 
  • Masks must be worn unless you are with people from your household or you are seated at least 2 meters away from every person outside your household 
  • Reservations are required for attendance 

Amusement parks and waterparks 

  • Outdoor areas are limited to the number of people that can maintain physical distance of 2 metres, with a maximum capacity of 75%  
  • Indoor areas are limited to the number of people that can maintain physical distance of 2 metres, with a maximum of 50%  

Horse racing venues 

  • Maximum 50% capacity indoors, up to 1000 people (seated) 
  • Maximum 75% capacity outdoors, up to 15,000 people (seated) 
  • Maximum 75% capacity outdoors, up to 5,000 people (non-seated) 
  • Reservations required for seated events 

Casinos, bingo halls, and gaming establishments 

  • Capacity is limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres physical distance  
  • Maximum 50% capacity indoors 

Boat Tours 

  • Limited to the amount of people that can maintain 2 metres of physical distance with a maximum capacity of 50%  

Fairs, rural exhibitions, festivals 

  • Maximum 75% capacity outdoors 
  • Indoor capacity is limited to the amount of people that can maintain 2 meters of physical distance, not exceeding 50% capacity 

Strip clubs  

  • Indoor capacity limited to the number of people who can maintain a physical distance of 2 metres (seated)  
  • Performers must maintain at least 2 metres’ physical distance from patrons 

Bathhouses and sex clubs 

  • Capacity limited to the number of people who can maintain a physical distance of 2 metres  
  • Maximum 25% capacity, up to 250 people 
  • Masks required 

Next steps 

The province will remain in Step Three of the Roadmap for at least 21 days and until 80 per cent of the eligible population aged 12 and over has received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 75 per cent have received their second, with no public health unit having less than 70 per cent of their population fully vaccinated. 

Upon meeting these thresholds, the vast majority of public health and workplace safety measures, including capacity limits for indoor and outdoor settings and limits for social gatherings, will be lifted. Only a small number of measures will remain in place, including the requirement for passive screening, such as posting a sign, and businesses requiring a safety plan. 

Please view the regulation for full details.

Tourism Economic Recovery Ministerial Task Force Recommendations

June 23, 2021 -

The Tourism Economic Recovery Ministerial Task Force, led by Tim Hudak, released its final report, which contains ten recommendations to government on how best to support the tourism industry recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The ten recommendations are:

  1. Emphasize safety in everything we say and do.
  2. Give Ontarians an incentive to get out of the home and make new memories.
  3. Encourage and excite Ontarians to experience Ontario through new "Yours to Discover" days.
  4. Provide increased stability and opportunities to tourism businesses and organizations.
  5. Bring back conventions and business events to Ontario.
  6. Make it easier for people to find the package, products and destinations that suit their budgets, schedules and needs.
  7. Reduce the amount of time tourism businesses spend on red tape so they can spend more time delivering unforgettable experiences.
  8. Make nature and outdoor experiences part of the province's solution to physical and mental health challenges.
  9. Create "bite-sized" mobile and scalable experiences during the transition period to a full reopening.
  10. Showcase the best of Ontario through packaged itineraries and trails.

Review the full report online. 

Federal 2021 Budget Supporting Tourism, Hospitality, Arts and Culture

April 20, 2021 - 

The impact of COVID-19 on workers and businesses in tourism, arts, and culture has been severe. With the rollout of vaccines underway, businesses in the tourism, arts and culture sectors are getting ready to welcome Canadians back to experience the great places and activities this country has to offer—when it is safe to do so. Canadians are also eager to return to the local festivals and places they know and love.

The government's plan will support our economic recovery, restoring and creating jobs in these sectors, drawing visitors to towns and cities across the country, and unleashing spending that stimulates local economies. See the full update from the Department of Finance Canada.

Provincial Budget to Support the Tourism and Hospitality Sectors during COVID-19

March 30, 2021 - 

In March 2021, the Province announced its 2021 Budget: Ontario's Action Plan: Protecting People's Health & Our Economy. Prior to the pandemic, tourism generated more than $36 billion in economic activity and supported approximately 400,000 jobs in Ontario. As a direct result of the pandemic, the tourism sector has lost more than $18 billion in revenue alone and more than 200,000 jobs.

"This has been the most challenging year the tourism industry has ever faced. Previously an economic powerhouse for the province, tourism has been hit by the triple threat that COVID-19 represents - a health, economic and social crisis. This critical funding will sustain regionally significant businesses, while protecting jobs in communities that rely on tourism investment." - Minister Lisa MacLeod

Tourism initiatives and supports announced in the 2021 Budget include: 

  • Introduction of a new Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant, which will provide an estimated $100 million in a one-time payout of $10,000 to $20,000 to eligible tourism and hospitality small businesses. This is meant to protect jobs in local communities to help small businesses recover from the impacts of COVID-19 and once again offer world-class tourism and hospitality experiences.
  • Dedicating $100 million into Ontario Tourism Recovery Program to help tourism operators, anchor businesses and attractions recover from the impacts of COVID-19.
  • Increased funding of up to $15 million for the Regional Tourism Organizations (RTOs) in 2021–22. The initiative will help stabilize and support the tourism sector’s efforts to attract domestic and international visitors when it is safe to do so.
  • Increasing investment in Ontario’s arts community by $10 million in 2021–22. With support from the Ontario Arts Council (OAC), this increased investment will assist with significant costs incurred when preparing for activities and events that could not go forward in 2020–21.
  • To support the recovery and sustainability of Ontario’s wine and agri tourism industry, the government is providing a one time $10 million grant in 2021 to help wineries and cideries impacted by lockdown measures, and help ensure that agricultural production and local jobs are maintained in Ontario’s rural communities.
  • Increasing funding for the Small Distillery Support Program by an additional $1.2 million in 2021–22 to help small distillers recover from the impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic.

Watch the full budget announcement here.

Funding and Financial Relief Programs

*NEW* Jobs and Growth Fund in southern Ontario

The Jobs and Growth Fund provides funding to businesses and organizations to help create jobs and position local economies for long-term growth. The fund, delivered by Canada's regional development agencies (RDAs), provides $700 million nationally over three years, which includes up to $70 million dedicated to businesses created after January 2020 that meet eligibility criteria. Eligible activities include:

  • Support in the transition to green economy;
  • Fostering inclusive recovery;
  • Preservation of Canada's competitiveness and future-proof SMEs through digital adoption;
  • Strengthen capacity in sectors critical to Canada's recovery and growth.


Applications will be accepted on a continuous intake basis, until funding is fully allocated.

*NEW* Resilient Communities Fund (deadline: December 8, 2021)

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is investing in projects of non-profit organizations that have been impacted by COVID-19 through the Resilient Communities Fund.

Funding is available for projects that align with at least one of the Resilient Communities Fund outcomes to help organizations address their diverse needs and support them to rebuild and recover.

  • Applications will be accepted starting November 10, 2021 
  • Application deadline is December 8, 2021, at 5 p.m. EST 

*NEW* Ontario Tourism Recovery Program 

The province has confirmed that the $100 million Ontario Tourism Recovery Program, previously announced in the spring budget, will launch in mid-October. The Tourism Recovery Program will support for-profit tourism businesses in the attraction, accommodation, and leisure travel sectors that help drive employment and visitors to their regions. Eligible businesses include hotels, inns, resorts, boat tours, ski hills, distilleries, hunting and fishing camps, airlines, motor coaches, live performance venues, cinemas, drive-in theatres, amusement parks, museums, and Indigenous attractions.

The Tourism Recovery Program will support tourism businesses that have experienced a loss of at least 50% of eligible revenue in 2020-21 compared to 2019. Eligible applicants will receive up to 20% of 2020-2021 qualifying revenue losses with a funding cap of $1 million. Program funding will go towards helping businesses reopen safely, develop innovative tourism products, and/or retain and create tourism jobs. Eligible expenses include reopening and operating costs such as staff salaries and maintenance, health and safety measures for visitors and workers, tourism product and experience development, or marketing. 

Applications for the Tourism Recovery Program will open on October 13, 2021. 

For more information, read the news release. For a full list of eligible businesses, activities, and application details, visit the Ontario Tourism Recovery Program page

A Three Fires Collaborative Quest

The Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO), in collaboration with Indigenous Tourism Ontario (ITO), and the Ontario Tourism Education Corporation (OTEC), are now accepting applications for A Three Fires Collaborative Quest Program - a program designed to support recovery and growth of the province’s Indigenous tourism workforce by building the labour pool and filling critical gaps within the industry.

Propel: Student Work Placement Program

Tourism HR Canada announced the launch of a federally funded Student Work Placement Program offering paid work-integrated learning opportunities in the tourism and hospitality sector.

Called Propel, the new program benefits the full spectrum of the visitor economy as it emerges from the crushing impact of the pandemic. Propel coordinates wage subsidies for registered Canadian businesses, startups, and not-for-profits related to the tourism and hospitality sector. The position being covered must be a work-integrated learning opportunity for a post-secondary student.

Students, employers and post-secondary institutions in the tourism and hospitality sector can find out more information on TourismHR's website.

Tourism Relief Fund

The Government of Canada has just launched the Tourism Relief Fund, to be delivered through FedDev Ontario. The Tourism Relief Fund supports tourism businesses and organizations to adapt their operations to meet public health requirements while investing in products and services to facilitate their future growth. This fund has a $500 million budget (ending March 31, 2023) and will focus on product development and destination development. The fund will empower businesses to create or enhance tourism experiences and products to attract visitors and to help the sector provide the best Canadian tourism experiences. 

Contributions to businesses will be either non-repayable contributions up to $100,000 for up to 50% of eligible costs OR fully repayable contributions up to $500,000 for up to 75% of eligible costs. 

The fund will offer a minimum of $50 million to support Indigenous tourism initiatives and $15 million will be dedicated to national initiatives that support the advancement of national tourism priorities. Eligible applicants include tourism entities that cater mainly to visitors, such including businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and band councils or other Indigenous organizations and cooperatives.  

To be considered eligible for this fund, applicants must meet at least one of the following criteria: 

  • Be a key supplier or operator in the visitor experience; 
  • Be part of a defined tourism cluster or a tourism dependent community, including supporting downtown cores; or 
  • Provide an anchor product or service in a tourism destination. 

For more information on eligibility and how to apply, please consult the Tourism Relief Fund – Application guide - FedDev Ontario.

Canada Community Revitalization Fund (CCRF) 

The Government of Canada has launched the national $500-million Canada Community Revitalization Fund (CCRF). The CCRF will support not-for-profit organizations, municipalities and other community groups and Indigenous communities to:

  • build new community infrastructure and revitalize existing assets;
  • bring people back to public spaces safely as health measures ease; and,
  • create jobs and stimulate local economies.

This new Fund is being delivered across the country by Canada’s regional development agencies to help eligible organizations improve local infrastructure projects to position their communities for a successful recovery. FedDev Ontario is now accepting applications for funding through the CCRF for organizations in southern Ontario.

For full eligibility criteria and other information, please visit FedDev Ontario’s CCRF web page.

Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund

The Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund (OCAF) has three aims:

  1. to increase cultural tourism by providing investments to assist Ontario organizations to develop, promote and present one- off or first time events, or a significant expansion of existing activity, which are designed to attract new tourists and visitors to cultural events;
  2. increase the earned revenue capability of the applicant organization; and
  3. support events that foster economic growth and contribute to job creation.

OCAF achieves this by providing up front working capital directed towards the applicant’s marketing and promotional costs, with the investment taking the form of a partially repayable loan.

Applying to the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund is a two-stage process, which ensures that organizations do not dedicate significant time, effort and resources to an ineligible project. The OCAF Program Guide provides all relevant criteria about the application process. 

  • Stage 1 requires the applicant to complete a three-page form with basic information about the proposed project and target market. This application is reviewed by program staff.  If the project meets the general eligibility criteria, applicants will be provided with the Stage 2 application form.
  • The Stage 2 application requires the development of a detailed business case that includes a marketing plan, attendance and revenue projections and an analysis of the benefits of the project for the community. Stage 2 applications are reviewed by the OCAF board once staff has done a preliminary assessment.

Additional information and the program application is available on the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund website.

Canada Recovery Hiring Program (deadline: December 30, 2021)

The new Canada Recovery Hiring Program is a $595 million program that will make it easier for businesses to hire back laid-off workers or to bring on new ones by providing eligible employers with a subsidy of up to 50% on the incremental renumeration paid to eligible employees between June 6, 2021 and November 20, 2021. As the rates for both the wage subsidy and the hiring program will slowly ramp down over time, employers will have a strong incentive to begin hiring as soon as possible and maximize their benefit.

Celebrate Ontario Blockbuster

Offered through the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, the Celebrate Ontario Blockbuster funding program supports costs related to hosting a major one-time event in Ontario. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis, however you must submit your application at least four months before your event start date.

Tourism Economic Development and Recovery Fund

The Tourism Economic Development and Recovery Fund (TEDRF) is an application-based, cost-sharing program designed to provide non-capital funding to projects that either:

  • encourage the development of innovative new tourism products
  • support tourism investment
  • build the capacity of Ontario’s tourism industry

The program also supports innovative tourism recovery projects aimed at increasing tourism within Ontario to address the reduction in global travel as a result of COVID-19.

Training and Networking Opportunities

 **NEW** Free HHBRTA Customer Service Excellence Sessions

Date: Thursday November 25th, 2021         Time: 9:00am – 12:00pm

Session Details: This training provides advanced customer service tips and tools for your organization. You will learn about customer service skills that create positive first impressions, manage customer expectations and build customer loyalty whether online or in person.


Date: Thursday January 27th, 2021             Time: 9:00am – 12:00pm

Session Details: Many consumers will be apprehensive during re-opening. Organizations need strategies to build consumer confidence and trust in their business, staff, and post Covid-19 processes. Learn tools and techniques to leverage customer service excellence and new COVID protocols to build consumer confidence in your organization.

Note: This webinar’s content has been designed for Hospitality, Accommodation and Agri-Tourism Operators. 


Date: Thursday February 3rd, 2021              Time: 9:00am – 12:00pm

Location: Courtyard Marriott, 1224 Upper James Street Hamilton. 

Session Details: Many consumers will be apprehensive during re-opening. Organizations need strategies to build consumer confidence and trust in their business, staff, and post Covid-19 processes. Learn tools and techniques to leverage customer service excellence and new COVID protocols to build consumer confidence in your organization.

Note: This webinars content has been designed for Events, Outdoor Recreation, Large Attractions, Heritage, Arts and Culture Operators. 


If you are interested in attending any of these learning opportunities, or require assistance, please contact

Free HHBRTA Industry Exchange Forum (November 17, 9am-12pm)

The Hamilton-Halton-Brant Regional Tourism Association (HHBRTA) is hosting the bi-annual Industry Exchange Forum in person at the Courtyard by Marriott Hamilton (1224 Upper James St., Hamilton). The forum is designed with networking in mind for regional tourism businesses with the theme of the "Future is Ours." 

Note: Effective September 22, 2021, new provincial proof of vaccination regulations will now be required for attending in-person indoor conferences, meetings and events. Attendees will be required to provide an electronic copy (PDF) of your proof of vaccination and ID to HHBRTA staff onsite. 

Registration can be done online through EventBrite.

Building Back Better Training Series

Offered by the Hamilton Halton Brant Regional Tourism Association (HHBRTA), Building Back Better is a training series to assist tourism industry partners in identifying opportunities to recover and thrive as the province re-opens, and simultaneously work on overall economic recovery to ensure the tourism industry is market ready and competitive. The Training Modules will include digitalization, e-commerce, providing a safe and welcoming place for consumers, partnership skills development, buyable offer creation to diversify consumer audiences, recruitment and retention, and mental health and well-being.

This training is free to attend and accessible 24/7 on the HHBRTA website.

Free Training for Workers in the Tourism & Hospitality Sector

The workplace has changed dramatically and continues to do so. The Ontario Tourism Education Corporate (OTEC) and Tourism SkillsNet Ontario (TSNO) have created two programs - Resiliency Training and Leadership Training - to increase engagement and help with retention and advancement within the industry. The training is free and is open to full time, part time, and furloughed workers of tourism and hospitality businesses (note that business owners and senior leadership are not eligible). 

Public cohorts will be running every month until March 2022, and TSNO has the ability to offer exclusive, customized sessions for larger teams. Details about the Resiliency Training and Leadership Training programs are available online.

Free Tourism Digital Marketing Certificate (available until March 31, 2022)

With the new realties of COVID-19, digital marketing has become the predominant avenue for the tourism industry. Working with E-Learning University, the Hamilton-Halton-Brant Regional Tourism Association is offering four Digital Marketing Certificates that are free to earn for Brantford's business operators and organizations. 

There are four certificates that are available for completion:

  • Tourism Social Media Marketing 
  • Tourism SEO and SEM Marketing 
  • Tourism Content Marketing 
  • Tourism Website, Email and Advanced Marketing 

​Each certificate can be taken individually, however there is opportunity to receive a Tourism Digital Marketing Expert (TDME) Certification if you complete the four certificates detailed above. Each certificate is compiled of a variety of 1-hour video training and a 5-question quiz. 

How to Start:

Step 1: Create a login with E-learning University. Once you are logged you will also have access to register for upcoming live webinars or view a library of tourism-focused recorded webinars, in addition the access to the Digital Marketing Certification Program.  

Step 2: Once your login is confirmed, visit the E-Learning U website to start your certification courses.

For any assistance, please contact

Research and Development

Revisiting Tourism: Canada’s Visitor Economy One Year into the Global Pandemic
Recovery is forecasted to take years, but a significant increase in domestic travel can accelerate recovery by one year. Because of its service nature, tourism is the most impacted sector in the Canadian economy. Canada’s major cities have been hit the hardest by the loss of tourism revenue. Review the report from Destination Canada online.
Destination Ontario - Impact of COVID-19 on the Canadian Economy and Consumer Sentiment

To better understand the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, the consumer mindset and to inform marketing recovery strategies, Destination Ontario has accessed various economic and public attitude and behavior studies. The most recent (February 23, 2021) report is available online.

Reconnecting Ontarians: Re-emerging as a Global Leader

An action plan for economic and social recovery through Ontario’s Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries (Province of Ontario). 

2021 TIAC Tourism Recovery Plan

The Tourism Industry Association of Canada has prepared a comprehensive 2021 Tourism Recovery Plan to to ensure the survival and competitiveness of Canada's tourism industry through COVID-19. 

Other Updates

Shop Local Brantford-Brant Program

The Chamber of Commerce - Brantford/Brant's Shop Local Brantford-Brant campaign will launch formally in mid-October. The program is open to all businesses in Brantford, Brant, Six Nations of the Grand River and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

The Chamber is looking to help you – the business owner – tell your story in media, through short videos suitable for social media, integrated with print media and/or additional social media channels. They want to share the challenges, the successes, the great employees, the inspirations and the struggles of being a business owner in our region.

More information and how to apply will be coming shortly. To get on the waiting list for the first batch of stories, please contact

TIAO Complimentary Membership Offer Extended

The Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) has extended its complimentary membership program to the entire tourism industry in Ontario for 2021.

Reach out to TIAO directly here and they will set up your membership. They will also extend to you the option as we do to our existing members.

Safe Travels Stamp Administered by TIAO

TIAO has been chosen by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) to administer the Safe Travels Stamp in Canada. The Safe Travels Stamp is an international symbol designed to allow travellers to recognize governments and companies around the world, which have adopted health and hygiene standardized protocols  – so consumers can experience ‘Safe Travels’.

Apply here. See list of successful applicants here

Free COVID-19 Rapid Testing Kits for small and medium businesses

The Chamber of Commerce Brantford-Brant along with the Paris & District Chamber of Commerce have joined forces to provide free self-screening kits to small and medium businesses. The goal of this program is to identify asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic individuals to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your workplace which will then help prevent the spread at home and in our community.

Visit the Chamber of Commerce Brantford-Brant's COVID-19 Rapid Testing Kits page of their website for detailed information and to order rapid testing kits for your business.