Deputy Prime Minister Highlights Tourism Relief Fund Support for Atlantic Canada

News release

Tourism businesses and organizations can now apply for support to recover and grow

July 22, 2021 – Charlottetown, PEI – Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Today, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Minister of Finance, was in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, to highlight the Government of Canada’s recently launched $500-million Tourism Relief Fund. Canada’s regional development agencies (RDAs) will deliver $485 million directly to tourism businesses and organizations to help them recover and grow. An additional $15 million will be delivered by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada to support destination development, seasonal and local attractions, and human resources and skills development.

In March 2020, tourism came to a screeching halt as public safety measures kept most Canadians home and international borders closed. Here in Canada, vaccination efforts are paying off and declining case rates are allowing the easing of restrictions. Earlier this month, the government announced a plan to re-open our borders to fully vaccinated travellers. This risk-based and measured approach will begin August 9 for fully vaccinated American travellers, and on September 7 for any fully vaccinated traveller. Welcoming travellers is good news for tourism businesses and organizations from coast to coast to coast, especially in Atlantic Canada. The government will continue to monitor the epidemiological situation so it can protect Canadians’ health and safety.

The tourism sector is dominated by small and medium-sized businesses and employ a higher proportion of youth, women and Indigenous peoples--groups that have been amongst the hardest hit by job losses. Funding through the Tourism Relief Fund will help tourism businesses and organizations meet public health requirements, welcome visitors back, and invest in products and services they need to grow, create jobs, and support their local economies.

Indigenous communities that rely heavily on tourism have also been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. In order to close this gap, the Government of Canada is investing a minimum of $50 million of the Tourism Relief Fund in Indigenous tourism projects.

The Tourism Relief Fund is part of the $1 billion in tourism support announced in Budget 2021 to help tourism businesses bounce back, while making Canada a unique premier destination as it is safe for international visitors to return.  

ACOA is now accepting applications

With $48.5 million in funding for the Atlantic region tourism sector, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) will provide direct support to tourism businesses and organizations to help them create or enhance tourism experiences and products to attract more local and domestic visitors. These investments will also help the sector safely welcome international visitors by providing the best tourism experiences Atlantic Canada has to offer.

Tourism businesses and organizations can visit the Tourism Relief Fund page on ACOA’s website to see if they are eligible and to submit an application.


“Tourism businesses create good jobs in communities across Canada, and they are especially important here in Atlantic Canada. Many of them are small businesses and they have faced enormous challenges over the last year. Our government has provided over $15 billion through our COVID-19 emergency business support programs, but we know the sector has faced unique challenges. I’m very pleased that support is now available through the Tourism Relief Fund, which we first announced in the federal budget. This funding will help Atlantic Canada safely welcome back visitors, maintain and create local jobs, and make sure the tourism sector has a strong, long-lasting recovery.”
-       The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

“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, rich cultural experiences and incredibly warm hospitality once it is safe to do so.”
-       The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages

“The pandemic has had a real impact on our tourism businesses here on Prince Edward Island, and it’s vitally important that we help them get back on their feet. The Tourism Relief Fund will do just that, and I know it’s going to make a real difference for the folks in the tourism sector that play such an important part in our communities and our economy on the Island.”
-       Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs &Associate Minister of National Defence and   Member of Parliament for Cardigan

Quick facts

  • As part of Canada’s plan to re-open borders, international passenger flights will be permitted to land at five additional airports including, in Atlantic Canada, Halifax Stanfield International Airport, beginning August 9, 2021

  • The Tourism Relief Fund was launched on July 12, 2021, by the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages. Tourism is a key contributor to Canada’s economy. According to Statistics Canada, 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.

  • To help manage the severe impact of COVID-19, The federal government has provided the tourism, arts, and culture sectors with $15.4 billion in federal emergency support including through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, support for rent and mortgages through the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, and Lockdown Support, as well as support for small businesses through the Canada Emergency Business Account.

  • Through Budget 2021, the Government of Canada has extended the wage subsidy, rent subsidy, and Lockdown Support through to the fall, to keep supporting businesses as the economy recovers.

  • The recently launched Canada Recovery Hiring Program helps businesses rehire workers, and increase workers’ hours and wages, as economies re-open. Businesses can apply for this support now.

  • The Highly Affected Sectors Credit Program (HASCAP) provides low-interest, government-guaranteed loans of up to $1 million to the business hardest sectors, like tourism and hospitality.

  • Budget 2021 proposed to invest $100 million to Destination Canada to make sure Canada is a destination of choice for domestic and international visitors as it once again becomes safe to travel.

  • As the public health situation improves, the government expects to see the return of airline routes back to the Atlantic provinces.

Associated links


Katherine Cuplinskas
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Finance

Media Relations
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

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