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OHTO Receives $3 Million through Government of Canada’s Tourism Relief Fund

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BEACHBURG – Tourism is essential to the vitality of small businesses and communities in Ontario’s Highlands with 4.2 million visitors drawn each year to the region’s breathtaking natural environments, dynamic rural communities and rich cultural heritage. The Government of Canada’s Tourism Relief Fund (TRF) ensures that Canadian tourism destinations can receive the support they need to continue to attract visitors as Canada recovers from the pandemic and we continue to grow our economy.

On April 6, the Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) announced a non-repayable investment of $68.5 million for 11 Regional Tourism Organizations across southern Ontario and the Indigenous Tourism Ontario.

As part of this investment, Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization (OHTO) is receiving a non-repayable contribution of $3 million through the Tourism Relief Fund, delivered by FedDev Ontario. With this funding, OHTO is providing eligible tourism businesses and organizations in Ontario’s Highlands with non-repayable contributions of up to $100,000 to help local tourism businesses and organizations recover from the impacts of the pandemic and invest in new products and services to attract visitors and drive growth in the region. This support will ensure the tourism sector in Ontario’s Highlands has the tools to innovate and find new business opportunities as we safely welcome back tourists from within Canada and around the world.

“The tourism sector is vital to the health of local economies in southern Ontario and creates jobs in communities across the region. Through the Government of Canada’s Tourism Relief Fund, Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization will be able to deliver financial support to local tourism businesses and organizations in Ontario’s Highlands to help them recover from the impacts of the pandemic, attract new visitors and drive economic growth in our communities.”

  • The Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

“Rural eastern Ontario has an abundance of natural sites and activities to explore and experience. Today’s investment of $3 million will be able to help local tourism operators to recover from the pandemic and position the region as a destination of choice for visitors.”

  • The Honourable Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development

“For the past twelve years, OHTO has had the privilege of working with the Province of Ontario to support and grow the visitor economy in Ontario’s Highlands through the Regional Tourism Organization (RTO) framework. This investment from the Government of Canada and FedDev Ontario is a great example of the power of collaboration. We are looking forward to leveraging our expertise and funding to provide much needed support to our industry as we work towards recovery.”

  • Nicole Whiting, Executive Director, Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization

With these funds, OHTO will be able to support up to 60 tourism businesses and organizations and expects to maintain 120 full-time permanent jobs. Additionally, they will help the region innovate and invest in new and enhanced tourism experiences to attract visitors from within Canada and around the world.

Tourism businesses in Ontario’s Highlands can visit the Regional Tourism Relief Fund – Ontario’s Highlands home page to learn more about available funding and how to apply. Interested applicants may submit their applications by May 15, 2022 to be a part of the initial intake.

Quick Facts

The Ontario’s Highlands region covers a large portion of eastern Ontario, which includes the counties of Haliburton, Lanark, and Renfrew, as well as portions of Frontenac, Hastings, and Lennox and Addington. It is one of the largest tourism regions in the Ontario and is the only region that is entirely rural.
In 2021, with funding support through FedDev Ontario, the Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization TRIP - Capital Projects program delivered $1.2 million in support to 93 tourism businesses and operators throughout the region to help them offer a safer visitor experience. 
The Government of Canada’s $500-million Tourism Relief Fund is helping tourism-oriented businesses and organizations recover from the pandemic and prepare for future growth. FedDev Ontario is delivering nearly $120 million of the Tourism Relief Fund across southern Ontario.