Ontario is set to offer $200 Million in support programs in the hopes revitalizing the province’s tourism and hospitality industry, hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
During a trip to Niagara Region on Monday, premier Doug Ford touched on a pair of grant programs revealed in last week’s budget that will target recovery in the sector.
The first is the $100-million tourism and hospitality small business support grant program that would allow businesses one-time payments of up to $20,000, which includes supports for thousands of hotels, motels, travel agencies, water parks, and overnight summer camps.
The fund is limited to businesses who have had a minimum 20 per cent revenue decline and less than 100 employees.
The second is $100 million for a new one-time Ontario tourism recovery program earmarked for businesses that innovate and create new tourism offerings to attract visitors from around the world when it is safe to do so.
Resorts, tour boat operators, amusement and water parks, northern lodges are examples of some of the tourist attractions that can qualify.
The province estimates that over 200,000 jobs and about $18 billion in revenue was lost last year in the tourism and hospitality sector during 2020 due to pandemic shut downs and restrictions.
In late 2020, the province targeted a number of Niagara entities reliant on revenue for one-time grants including Niagara Parks, which will receive $12.81 million from Ontario to ensure financial sustainability as it deals with the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19.
Niagara’s job numbers took a hit amid the pandemic in 2020 with the unemployment rate jumping between February and June of last year with 32,000 (15.6 per cent) residents affected by job losses.