Ontario Delivers New Support for Tourism Sector

March 25, 2021
By Bob Peters

The provincial budget, delivered on Wednesday, outlines an investment of more than $400 million over the next three years to support the tourism, hospitality, culture, sports and recreation sectors. This builds on investments of $225 million announced earlier, bringing the total to more than $625 million since the pandemic began.

Some of the tourism-related highlights from the budget include:

Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant
The Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant will provide an estimated $100 million in one‑time payments of $10,000 to $20,000 to eligible small businesses. As they look ahead to the upcoming spring and summer tourism season, these eligible small businesses can apply for support to help them recover from the impacts of COVID‑19 as well as to help create and protect jobs. Businesses must demonstrate they have experienced a minimum 20 per cent revenue decline and have less than 100 employees to qualify.

Examples of eligible businesses for the grant include hotels and motels, travel agencies, amusement and water parks, hunting and fishing camps and recreational and vacation camps.

Applying online will be easy and further details can be obtained at

Any small businesses that received the Ontario Small Business Support Grant will not be eligible for this new grant. However, recipients of that grant will automatically receive a second payment equal to the first (either $10,000 or $20,000)⁠.

Ontario Tourism Recovery Program
The Ontario Tourism Recovery Program is a new $100 million initiative for 2021–22 to help tourism operators, anchor businesses and attractions recover from the impacts of COVID‑19. This initiative will provide support for historically successful businesses that have helped to drive employment and visitation in their regions by assisting with costs related to restructuring, safe reopening, recalibrated marketing activities and partnership development.

Travel Tax Credit
In the 2020 Budget, the government announced that it would explore ways to provide Ontario residents with support of up to 20 per cent for eligible Ontario tourism expenses to encourage them to discover the province in 2021. To this end, the government has set aside $150 million and intends to introduce legislation for a tax credit to encourage residents to explore Ontario when public health experts advise that it is safe to travel.

Support for Regional Tourism Organizations
The province will provide an additional $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.

Cornwall is part of RTO 9. To learn more about RTO 9, please click here.

Additional Arts Funding
The provincial government is increasing its 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.

Support for Ontario Parks
As people look for more opportunities to safely enjoy the outdoors, Ontario is encouraging visits to provincial parks by offering free day‑use entry on Mondays through Thursdays, from May 1 to September 2 this year. This will help more people and families enjoy outdoor activities such as canoeing, hiking and bike riding in provincial parks.

Ontario will also invest an estimated $3.9 million over three years to enhance the provincial park experience by using technology to better connect the people of Ontario with a one‑stop shop to help them find recreational opportunities that fit their location and interests.

Strategic Priorities and Infrastructure Fund
Ontario is investing around $200 million to provide infrastructure funding to larger, strategic projects and to sports facilities through the newly established Strategic Priorities and Infrastructure Fund.

The Strategic Priorities and Infrastructure Fund is delivered through two streams. The Priority Local Infrastructure stream will support new build multi‑purpose facilities for community, culture and recreation purposes. The Sport and Community Renewal stream provides funding to support the renovation and rehabilitation of sport and community infrastructure.

For additional information on the 2021 Ontario Budget, please click here.

The new initiatives outlined above are in addition to other supports that have been made available to local tourism businesses.

Community Building Fund
The Ontario government is investing $105 million through the Community Building Fund to support the arts and culture, heritage, tourism, sport and recreation sectors. The fund is being delivered by the Ontario Trillium Foundation across two distinct funding streams – Operating and Capital. For more information, please click here.

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund
The RRRF provides liquidity support to businesses and organizations affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19, that are unable to access other federal relief measures, or require additional support. The Fund, valued at more than $2 billion nationally with 25 percent set aside for the tourism industry, is delivered by Canada’s regional development agencies. For more information, please click here.

Cornwall Tourism Development Fund
The Tourism Development Fund provides financial assistance to tourism events, experiences and businesses that have a positive economic impact on Cornwall. The fund is administered by the Tourism Development Corporation of Cornwall and is supported by revenues from the Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT). Applications are accepted and reviewed quarterly. Applicants can be awarded a maximum of 25% of their project budget to a limit of $25,000 per year, per project. For more information, please click here.

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