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

*NEW* Provincial Government Announces Move to Step 1

June 7, 2021 - 

The Provincial government has announced that Ontario will move into Step 1 of its Roadmap to Reopen at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, June 11, 2021.

Step 1 of the Roadmap to Reopen includes, but is not limited to:

  • Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 10 people
  • Outdoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies including wedding services and funeral services, capped at the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of 2m
  • Indoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services permitted at up to 15 per cent capacity of the particular room
  • Non-essential retail permitted at 15% capacity, with no restrictions on the goods that can be sold
  • Essential and other select retail permitted at 25% capacity, with no restrictions on the goods that can be sold
  • Outdoor dining with up to four people per table, with exceptions for larger households
  • Outdoor fitness classes; outdoor groups in personal training and outdoor individual/team sport training to be permitted with up to 10 people, among other restrictions
  • Day camps for children permitted to operate in a manner consistent with the safety guidelines for COVID-19 produced by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • Overnight camping at campgrounds and campsites, including Ontario Parks, and short-term rentals
  • Concert venues, theaters and cinemas may open outdoors for the purpose of rehearsing or performing a recorded or broadcasted concert, artistic event, theatrical performance or other performance with no more than 10 performers, among other restrictions
  • Outdoor horse racing tracks and motor speedways permitted to operate without spectators
  • Outdoor attractions such as zoos, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens with capacity limits and other restrictions
  • Outdoor tours with restrictions are now permitted

Please view the regulation for full details.

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

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.

Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant (Deadline: June 25, 2021)

The Ontario government is providing one‐time payments of $10,000 to $20,000 to support eligible small tourism and travel businesses struggling to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic through the new $100-million Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant. 

This grant will support eligible small tourism and travel businesses that did not receive the Ontario Small Business Support Grant (OSBSG), such as travel agents, hotels, motels, resorts, and bed and breakfasts. To qualify, businesses must have fewer than 100 employees and demonstrate they have experienced a minimum 20 per cent revenue decline between 2019 and 2020.

For information on eligibility and how to apply, visit: www.ontario.ca/covidsupport

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

This new $595 million program 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.

Ontario Trillium Foundation Community Building Fund (Deadline Extended: June 1, 2021)

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.

*NEW* Canadian Tire Jumpstart Sport Relief Fund (Application Deadline: August 1, 2021)

The next intake for the Canadian Tire Jumpstart Sport Relief Fund is now open. This grant offers Programming Support to assist organizations with the costs of delivering sport and recreational programming and Operational Support to assist organizations with operational and administrative costs.

This grant is for programs that start between September 1 and December 21, 2021. Applications close August 1, 2021. For more information and to apply, visit the Jumpstart Sport Relief Fund website.

Training and Networking Opportunities

*NEW* 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

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 (available until March 31, 2022): 

  • 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 angelica.smith@theheartofontario.com

Now, Into the Future: Cultural Tourism in Ontario Symposium - June 16 & 17, 2021

How can we collaborate to highlight Ontario as the arts and culture destination we know it is? As the arts, culture, and tourism sectors look forward to reopening, this symposium presents conversations, keynote presentations, and panel discussions featuring leaders in cultural tourism in Ontario and from outside Canada.  

Hear from key people at festivals, cultural destinations, municipalities, and tourism organizations, as well as cultural placemakers, international thought leaders, and research experts, who bring insights and expertise to the current realities and future possibilities for cultural tourism. Register for this free Symposium on eventbrite.

2021 Ontario Tourism Summit - October 26 & 27, 2021

Join the Tourism Association of Ontario and the Province's many stakeholders for the tourism industry event of the year - because tourism matters. Delegates can attend in person (Ottawa) or virtually to gather, share and collaborate as we rebuild Ontario's tourism industry together. This year's summit is about respect, collaboration and rebuilding our future. 

For more information, and to register for OTS21 visit the TIAO website.

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

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.