The Ontario government is providing an estimated $100 million for a new one-time Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant and $100 million for a new one-time recovery program.

This significant investment is part of the 2021 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health & Our Economy, and will support the province’s tourism industry as it recovers from the impacts of COVID-19. Total support from the Ontario government for the tourism, culture, sports, recreation, and heritage industries since the start of the pandemic now totals $625 million.

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board.

“The tourism industry is critical to Ontario’s economy and we are providing significant financial support to ensure this sector will be able to survive the pandemic and contribute to our recovery,” said Premier Ford. “These tourism operators and businesses employ local people throughout the province and typically attract visitors from around the world. Our government will continue to have their backs during this difficult time.”

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.

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 including hotels, motels, travel agencies, amusement and water parks, hunting and fishing camps, and recreational and vacation camps including children’s overnight summer camps. Businesses must demonstrate they have experienced a minimum 20 per cent revenue decline and have less than 100 employees to qualify. Any small businesses that received the Ontario Small Business Support Grant will not be eligible for this new grant.

“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,” said Minister MacLeod. “This critical funding will sustain regionally significant businesses, while protecting jobs in communities that rely on tourism investment.”

The Ontario Tourism Recovery Program will protect critical jobs in communities across the province and sustain for-profit tourism businesses, which have had to fully or partially shut down during the pandemic. The program will launch later this year and support tourism businesses across the province as they adjust operations to reopen safely and focus on the domestic market during the ongoing crisis. The program will support businesses as they innovate, adapt and create new tourism offerings and experiences to attract visitors from around the world when it is safe to do so.

The Ontario Tourism Recovery Program will support established and proven tourism businesses that have been hit hardest by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. These are key employers and tourism generators in all regions of the province, including the North. Examples of eligible businesses could include resorts, tour boat operators, amusement and water parks, northern lodges and other tourist attractions.

“People in the tourism, hospitality, culture, sports, and recreation industries have been particularly hard hit by the necessary public health restrictions,” said Minister Bethlenfalvy. “To protect jobs in these industries, our recent Budget invested an additional $400 million, bringing our total support to more than $625 million since the pandemic began. With these additional measures, we will ensure that Ontario remains a terrific place to discover.”

Healthy people are essential for a healthy economy. With vaccines being distributed, hope is on the horizon. Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy provides the resources necessary to finish the battle with COVID-19, building on the government’s record investments to protect health and jobs during the global pandemic.