There was good news for the Canadian tourism industry yesterday (July 12) as Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, launched $500-million in funding for the new Tourism Relief Fund.
Eligible organizations can now submit applications to support the tourism sector prepare to welcome back domestic travellers and reposition Canada as a world-class destination.
In making the announcement, Minister Joly said that: “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.”
The Minister continued: “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.”
Canada’s regional development agencies (RDAs) will deliver $485 million directly to businesses and organizations to help them adapt their operations to meet public health requirements while investing in products and services to facilitate future growth. As long-standing on the ground support to economic development and community growth, the RDAs are well positioned to deliver fast and efficient support to the tourism sector.
Indigenous communities that rely heavily on tourism have also been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. In order to close this gap, the Canadian government is investing a minimum of $50 million of the Tourism Relief Fund in Indigenous tourism projects.
In addition, $15 million, delivered by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, will support destination development, seasonal and local attractions, and human resources and skills development.
The Tourism Relief Fund, part of the $1 billion in tourism supports announced in Budget 2021, will help tourism businesses bounce back, while making Canada a unique premier destination when it is safe for international visitors to return.
Responding to the announcement, the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) said it was “heartened” by the launch of the new Tourism Relief Fund.
Beth Potter, President & CEO of TIAC, said that: “The tourism industry continues to face significant hardship due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. During today’s (July 12) press conference, Minister Joly acknowledged the unique set of factors our suite of sectors has endured, and repeatedly highlighted the fact that the tourism industry was first and hardest hit.”
Potter continued: “We appreciate the announcement of additional funds to the industry through the Tourism Relief Fund, with a focused lens to ensure support to Indigenous operators. While it is not going to solve all problems, this funding could make the difference between a business being able to stay in operation and employ staff throughout the long road to recovery. We encourage all tourism businesses and organizations to check with their Regional Development Agency to find out how they can take advantage of this funding.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Canadian government has provided over $15.4 billion in direct supports to the tourism sector. Budget 2021 committed an additional $1 billion to help the tourism sector prepare to welcome domestic travellers and reposition Canada as a world-class destination.