THUNDER BAY – A new Tourism Assistance Fund is available for eligible Northern Ontario applicants.
The $ 500 million tourism aid fund is spread over two years and includes $ 50 million for indigenous tourism initiatives and $ 15 million for national initiatives. FedNor will spend $ 25.3 million over the life of the program.
The funds are designed to help tourism businesses adapt their operations to public health needs, and they will also help invest in products and services to help them grow.
A Chronicle Journal press release states that eligible applicants are “tourism companies, primarily targeting visitors, including businesses, nonprofits such as tourism associations, and band councils or other indigenous organizations and cooperatives. ”
The notice also states that applicants must meet at least one of the following criteria in order to be eligible for funding:
• Be a key supplier or operator to the visitor experience;
• Be part of a defined tourism cluster or community dependent on tourism, including supporting downtown cores; or
• Providing an anchor product or service in a tourism destination.
“It is really aimed at businesses, organizations and nonprofits that want to change or adapt their business models and offerings as markets return, evolve and change,” said Paul Pepe, manager of Tourism Thunder Bay.
“It focuses on businesses that are attractions and destination drivers, and how they can expand and meet the anticipated needs of travelers as we get out of COVID.”
Pepe says it all starts with tourism developing and having experiences that attract people.
The funding program is designed to help the tourism sector improve and develop new experiences and enhance existing experiences for travelers after the pandemic, he says.
Pepe also warns that companies considering the program will have to put 50 percent of the money on their business plans.
“You need to have that equity too,” he said. “For some it’s easy and for some coming out of the pandemic it’s not, but it’s good to see the fund is out there and the dollars are being made available to the industry.”
He added that many companies are trying to figure out where they fit in the program.
“You can’t just do the same old, the same old with it,” he says. “You have to show that you are expanding, growing and changing to anticipate the demands of the new travelers.”
Hotel chains and restaurants are not eligible for the program.
Meanwhile, Thunder Bay Tourism and the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission have also committed to growing indigenous tourism. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed between the Thunder Bay CDED and Indigenous Tourism Ontario to collaborate, collaborate and support the growth of indigenous tourism in the Thunder Bay area.
“Our long-term goal is to make Thunder Bay a global hub for indigenous businesses, gatherings, meetings, conferences, education and health care,” says Pepe.
“Tourism Aid funding is a good tool for developing new experiences and enhancing existing ones that meet travelers’ needs and make travel destinations across Canada more attractive.”
According to the press release, contributions to companies will either:
• Non-refundable contributions up to US $ 100,000 for up to 50 percent of eligible costs; or
• Fully refundable contributions up to $ 500,000 for up to 75 percent of eligible costs.
It is important to note that non-profit making and indigenous organizations are eligible for non-refundable contributions.
“Project contribution amounts would not exceed $ 500,000 and the actual contribution amount is based on the minimum required to complete the project,” it said.
For more information on eligibility and how to apply for funding, please visit FedNor’s Tourism Relief Fund website.