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 Updates

 Province Issues 4-Week Stay-at-Home Order

April 7, 2021 -

The Ontario government has issued a province-wide Stay-at-Home order requiring everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise, or for work that cannot be done remotely. 

See the full government release here. See full list of rules and regulations here.

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

COVID-19: Comprehensive Local, Provincial and Federal Funding
The Economic Development & Tourism Department has prepared a comprehensive listing of funding opportunities that is regularly updated for businesses of all sizes in Brantford. These resources are available on the Advantage Brantford website.
Reconnect Festival and Events Program 

The Ontario Government is pleased to announce that they are investing $20 million through the 2021 Reconnect Festival and Events Program to provide support to event organizers who are finding new, exciting and engaging ways to deliver local programming during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible festivals and events must be taking place between April 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022. For information on the program including changes to eligibility, funding priorities and program details, please see the Reconnect Festival and Event Program Application Guide.

Tourism Advisors are available to assist with questions about the 2021 Reconnect Festival and Event Program application process. The deadline to apply for the 2021 Reconnect Festival and Event Program is Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 5 p.m. (EDT). Information about how to apply to the program is available at

Community Building Fund

COVID-19 has had an overwhelming impact on the arts and culture, heritage, tourism, sport and recreation sectors. These sectors are critical to the social and economic fabric of Ontario and its communities, and to support their broader recovery, the Ontario government is investing $105 million through the Community Building Fund.

This fund will support non-profits and Indigenous communities in these sectors that operate facilities and/or deliver experiences or programs for the public. The fund will enable organizations to remain viable so they can continue to improve quality of life and provide services, jobs, educational opportunities, and programming for Ontarians.

The fund will be administered by the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) through two program streams: an operating funding stream and a capital funding stream.

The operating stream of the Community Building Fund will open for applications on March 31, 2021, while the fund's capital stream will open later in 2021. 

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

Virtual Business After Hours - April 20, 2021 at 4:30-5:15pm

The Chamber of Commerce Brantford-Brant's Virtual Business After Hours is hosted by the Brant Waterways Foundation. Please join us during Earth Week for an update on what the Brant Waterways Foundation is up to. The Foundation and it's partners will share information, updates and suggestions for protecting and enhancing our community and its resources. For more information and to register, visit the Chamber website. 

Tourism Digital Marketing Certificate

Hamilton Halton Brant Regional Tourism Association (HHBRTA) is currently in the process of developing a high caliber annual workforce training program; “Building Back Better: Training & Skills Development Regional Series.” This series will offer a variety of training topics using multiple platforms, that is free to local businesses. The first program launching in April is a Tourism Digital Marketing Certificate. Certifications include: Tourism Social Media Marketing, Tourism SEO and SEM Marketing, Tourism Content Marketing, Tourism Website, Email and Advanced Marketing. Stay tuned for more details.  

Marketing and Experience Development Exchange

Hamilton Halton Brant Regional Tourism Association (HHBRTA) will host the next Marketing and Experience Development Exchange virtually on the morning of Thursday, May 27, 2021. There are plans to announce the inaugural recipients for the Regional Tourism Awards Recognition Program and we will celebrate Tourism Week together. Stay tuned for more details.

Campaign and Website Building for the Future

Join Scott Fish, Director of Growth Strategies at Unique Venues on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 2:00p.m. EDT to gain a deeper understanding of things to consider when building a new website or refreshing your existing website. Topics will include, SEO, Keyword and Content strategy, website wireframes, and integration of operational and sales team content. Register here.

Research and Development

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

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