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$500 million national tourism relief fund announced in the County

Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis welcomed Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, to Prince Edward County Monday to announce a national $500-million Tourism Relief Fund. At left, Lesley Lavender, PEC Chamber of Commerce executive director, listens to the announcement.

Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis welcomed Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, to Prince Edward County Monday to announce a national $500-million Tourism Relief Fund.

The fund is part of the broader $1 billion package proposed in the federal 2021 budget to support the tourism sector across Canada, which has suffered great losses since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.

The fund includes $50 million dedicated to Indigenous tourism initiatives and $15 million for national projects that address challenges facing the tourism sector recovery.

“Today’s announcement is meaningful for the tourism sector here in southeastern Ontario, and across the country,” said Ellis, at the announcement at Closson Chase Vineyards. “With the launch of the Tourism Relief Fund, we are providing support for businesses, organizations and tourism entities across Canada to adapt operations and also create new offerings and experiences for future visitors to enjoy.”

Joly stated the fund, over two years, will position Canada as a destination of choice when domestic and international travel is once again deemed safe.

“Our government has been there for the tourism sector since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis and today’s announcement is about adding another tool to the suite of COVID supports that will help it recover and prepare for future growth and create jobs. This is an important step in our recovery efforts to attract visitors from all over the world so they can discover our country’s extraordinary wild natural beauty, delicious food and rich cultural experiences and incredibly warm hospitality once it is safe to do so.”

Lesley Lavender, executive director of the Prince Edward County Chamber of Commerce was thrilled to hear the news.

“This past year and a half has been a difficult time for the tourism and hospitality industry here. Many businesses have met unprecedented challenges, closures and adaptations leaving a road to recovery looking very different for everyone,” she said. “This funding will have a strong impact on tourism, communities and families, giving many the opportunity to keep their staff, customers and operations safe for everyone; and help to keep our economy open and progressive as we continue to move forward.”

The fund will dole out non-repayable contributions up to $100,000 for up to 50 per cent of eligible costs; or fully repayable contributions up to $500,000 for up to 75 per cent of eligible costs.

Eligible applicants include businesses, not-for-profit organizations such as tourism associations, band councils or other Indigenous organizations and cooperatives. To be eligible, applicants must be a key supplier or operator in the visitor experience, or be part of a defined tourism cluster or tourism dependent community including supporting downtown cores; or provide an anchor product or service in tourism destination.

Joly noted eligible activities include projects that enhance tourism experiences; medium to long-term destination development; help tourism businesses adapt to the ‘new normal’ to modernize offerings and encourage the adoption of more environmentally sustainable and inclusive practices.

Canada’s regional development agencies (RDAs) will receive the applications and deliver funds. Click here for the application page 

Statistics Canada states the tourism sector generated an estimated $104.4 billion in revenues in 2019, supported approximately 1 in 10 jobs in communities across Canada and contributed an estimated $45.1 billion in gross domestic product. Prior to the pandemic, Indigenous tourism supported over 41,000 jobs and accounted for $2 billion of Canada’s GDP.

Tourism-related businesses and not-for-profit organizations have already received $15.4 billion in support for tourism, arts, and culture sectors to pay workers, provide rent and mortgage support, as well as providing liquidity support for small businesses.

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