Sunrise over the Grand River

Welcome tourism industry partners! Here, you'll find information on new initiatives, grants and upcoming training and networking opportunities. Subscribe to this page to stay connected to the tourism industry and receive updates sent directly in your inbox as soon as this page is updated. 

Industry News

Share your perspective on the future of tourism in RTO3: The Heart of Ontario! 

The Heart of Ontario, an independent, industry-led, not-for-profit organization responsible for enhancing and growing the region’s tourism products and marketing activities, are working on developing a 3-year Tourism Strategic Plan that will guide our organization’s work moving forward.

With support from Bannikin, we are seeking input from residents, business owners, community and organizational leaders about tourism in the region, including strength, weaknesses, challenges, opportunities, and what makes it a great place for visitors and residents alike.

The survey is made up of 18 questions and should take you no more than 10 minutes. The survey will close on Monday 17 April, 2023.

Please use the link below to complete the survey, and please feel free to share the link with others you feel have something valuable to share.

Survey Link:

The Government of Canada invests nearly $7.5 million in community infrastructure and tourism to grow the economy across the Golden Horseshoe. 

On January 9th, the Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), along with Lisa Hepfner, Member of Parliament for Hamilton Mountain, announced a total investment of nearly $7.5 million for 31 projects across the Golden Horseshoe, including Hamilton, Halton, Haldimand-Norfolk and Brant. These investments, through the Canada Community Revitalization Fund (CCRF) and the Tourism Relief Fund (TRF), will create and rejuvenate community spaces and enhance tourism attractions to welcome more visitors and build stronger, more vibrant communities that will lead to job creation, and a growing economy that works for everyone. 
The full list of all 31 projects can be found on the Government of Canada's Website.

State of the Ontario Tourism Industry Report

The Tourism Industry of Ontario (TIAO) and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) released the inaugural State of the Ontario Tourism Industry Report, a blueprint for the growth and recovery of the sector.

Ontario’s tourism industry is a vital contributor to the economy, representing $36 billion of the province’s GDP. While domestic and inbound travel improved in the latter half of 2022, the industry is not expected to recover from the pandemic until 2025.  

This report calls for a comprehensive strategy that addresses workforce development, regulatory burdens, infrastructure deficits and regional disparities. Recommendations were informed by two policy roundtables held in the Summer and Fall of 2022, bringing together tourism operators, industry experts, associations, chambers of commerce, and boards of trade from across the province.


Visit the TIAO website to read the full report. 

Funding and Financial Relief Programs

Digital Transformation Grant Program – Applications Now Open 

The application portal for the Digital Main Street Digital Transformation Grant program is now open!

The Digital Transformation Grant (DTG) program is designed to assist small businesses with adoption of technologies. The program will provide training, advisory support and grants to brick-and-mortar small businesses looking to increase their capacity through digital transformation.

The grant is administered by the Ontario BIA Association (OBIAA), and is not administered by Digital Main Street.  

Eligible brick-and-mortar small businesses can apply by creating an account and completing the digital assessment. The portal will be accepting applications until September 30th, 2023. To check if you are eligible or to apply, please visit the Digital Main Street Website. 

Applications Open for Indigenous Economic Development Fund and Indigenous Community Capital Grants Program 

Applications for the Indigenous Economic Development Fund (IEDF) and the Indigenous Community Capital Grants Program (ICCGP) are now open until early March 2023. This funding provides $3.2 million through the IEDF and $6 million through the ICCGP to promote economic development in Indigenous communities and increase employment opportunities for Indigenous people.

The IEDF provides grants and financing through two streams of funding to projects that diversify Indigenous economies, provide access to training opportunities, and support economic development initiatives through collaboration between Indigenous communities and the private sector.

The ICCGP funds community capital projects in all phases including feasibility studies, design, construction, and renovation of buildings such as community centres in First Nations and Métis communities and Indigenous organizations on- and off-reserve.

Previously funded projects include a business venture supporting Indigenous artisans, a cultural experiences project to increase tourism employment, and the development of a community service centre.

For more information and to apply, please visit the Government of Ontario's Website.

Complimentary TIAO Membership for Tourism Operators

TIAO is excited to announce that they will continue to offer complimentary membership to tourism operators who are active members of their local Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) and/or Sector Association 2023.  


By doing so, TIAO recognizes that operators are still on the road to financial recovery, while also recognizing the value of the network of tourism organizations supporting the industry as a whole.  


To set up your membership, or if you have questions, email Leni Brem and specify the organization with which you have membership (DMO or Sector association).  

More information about Membership and Benefits can be found on the TIAO website.


Tourism operators who are able to contribute to TIAO’s advocacy efforts can pay their membership fees and either 

  1. Become a recognized GreenShoots* sponsor or
  2. Sponsor an existing action such as the Tourism Issues Forum, Policy Speaker Series, AGM and/or Ontario Tourism Summit.  

Ontario Trillium Foundation is offering the Resilient Communities Fund 

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is offering the Resilient Communities Fund to support community-based organizations that deliver programs and services in Ontario and need funding to recover and build capacity, resilience and sustainability.   

Eligible applicants can apply for a grant to develop and implement medium to long-term plans that address current organizational challenges they are facing to recover and build resilience. 

Grants support organizations to:  

  • develop new approaches to generate revenue  
  • start new activities to meet community need 
  • adjust strategies and plans  
  • plan for future challenges  


  • Grant application will be available starting Wednesday, January 4 2023 
  • Deadline to submit application is Wednesday, February 1, 2023  at 5 PM ET. 


Review the updated Resilient Communities Fund resources that include comprehensive information related to eligibility requirements and application questions.

Get support for your application  

OTF offers a broad range of resources and opportunities to help organizations access comprehensive and up-to-date information about their grants. 

If your organization is new to OTF, attend these information sessions from January 9 to 27, 2023 to hear directly from OTF staff. 

Information session #1: Eligibility requirements for organizations
Information session #2: Overview of the Resilient Communities Fund 

Visit OTF’s event page to register for a session.  


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.

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.

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.

RTO3 Partnership Funding

The Heart of Ontario is committed to working with regional tourism industry partners to create high quality, new or enhanced experiences that will drive new visits and spending in the region of Hamilton Halton Brant. There are four streams regional industry partners can participate in to promote, develop and deliver events, experiences or offers.

Eligible partners include:

  • Tourism Enterprises & Related Businesses
  • Destination Management Organizations
  • Business Improvement Associations
  • Tourism Organizations
  • Accommodations
  • Municipalities
  • Associations or interest groups with an active interest in tourism

Details can be found on the Hamilton Halton Brant Regional Tourism Association website.

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

Indigenous Tourism Ontario – Business Advisory Program

Indigenous Tourism Ontario (ITO) offers one-on-one support services to Indigenous tourism businesses. Indigenous Business Advisors (IBA) Program will assist Indigenous tourism businesses throughout the province to improve sustainability and resiliency and encourage success within their operations. The IBA Program uses a relationship-focused approach whereby businesses receive one-on-one support from industry leading Indigenous tourism professionals. This innovative program will be the first of its kind in Canada.


To learn more about ITO’s Indigenous Business Advisory Program, or to sign up, please contact
Ontario Tourism Education Corporation (OTEC)

The Ontario Tourism Education Corporation (OTEC) is an Ontario-based independent, not-for-profit training, consulting and workforce development organization that delivers high quality, creative and branded solutions for the development and growth of a professional, skilled workforce. It is a leading source of support for community workforce capacity building and for helping companies attract, retain, and develop high performing employees and become Employers of Choice. OTEC is the premier source for Customer Service training and strategy development, Tourism Ambassador training and occupational certification, leadership skills training, and education products and services for tourism, hospitality and service oriented organizations in a wide range of industry sectors both nationally and internationally. 

Learn more about OTEC's Workforce Development, including Tourism SkillsNet Ontario, and Training Solutions for tourism-oriented businesses on their website.

Research and Development

EmployerOne Survey Returns in 2023

The Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie (WPBGE) is conducting a survey to better understand how businesses in our area support quality of work.  Quality of Work refers to things like a job's income and benefits, job security, chance for promotion, opportunities to use your skills, workplace culture, and more.

Target: The survey is open to employers/HR representatives in Brantford, Brant, Haldimand, Norfolk, Six Nations of the Grand River and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation businesses/organizations. 
Objectives: The EmployerOne survey was launched in response to the labour challenges that many employers are faced with, such as staff turnover, hard-to-fill positions, skills shortages and more. It will allow businesses, as well as community organizations and local leaders to better understand how the employers perceive and support quality of work within their workforce, and may prompt policy changes that support better quality of work. The survey also identifies local issues and trends, leading to collaborative actions to help employers (Example: community job training programs, Grand Erie Jobs).

The Workforce Planning Board conducts the annual survey jointly with dozens of local organizations, including economic development, local Chambers of Commerce, post-secondary institutions, service providers and more. 

 The survey should take between 10-15 minutes to complete. 

Confidentiality: The survey has been designed to protect your identity. Personal information will be kept confidential. Only summary results of the study will be published and released.
The survey is live for the month of January.

Visit the WPBGE Website to partake in the EmployerOne Survey.  

Adventure Tourism Market: Global Industry Trends

A new report has been released from Research and Markets. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The global adventure tourism market reached a value of US$ 852.4 Billion in 2021. Looking forward, the publisher expects the market to reach US$ 2,548.2 Billion by 2027, exhibiting at a CAGR of 20.23% during 2022-2027.
  • The escalating demand for authentic and personalized traveling experience on account of rapid urbanization, improving disposable incomes, rising social media influence, and affordable air travel tickets represents one of the key factors bolstering the market growth.
  • The growing awareness about the adverse impact of conventional tourism, such as soil erosion, increasing pollution, and natural habitat loss, is shifting the preferences of travelers towards sustainable and adventure tourism.
  • The report provides an analysis of the key trends in each sub-segment of the global adventure tourism market, along with forecasts at the global, regional and country level from 2022-2027. The report has categorized the market based on type, activity, age group and sales channel.

Find out more Adventure Tourism Market: Global Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast 2022-2027.

Destination Ontario - Research and Insights

Timely and relevant tourism research information is important to marketing strategy, partners and tourism businesses operating in today’s competitive travel market. Destination Ontario conducts primary, proprietary tourism-related research and has access to third-party research. It is our goal to provide reports with actionable insights that enable the industry to market their products more effectively.

Destination Ontario's corporate website includes research and insights related to segmentation, visitor spending in Ontario, performance and market trends based on border crossing statistics, and monthly consumer sentiment and economic modelling studies.

Other Updates

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 for the Safe Travels Stamp on the TIAO website.