FedDev Ontario’s supports recovery of southwestern Ontario’s tourism sector

News release

FedDev Ontario announces $1.2 million to support more than 100 businesses and maintain 320 jobs

May 28, 2021 – Woodstock, Ontario

Tourism is essential to the vitality of businesses and communities in southwestern Ontario, with many visitors normally drawn to the region’s wineries, cultural and natural attractions each year. The sector has been hit hard by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and tourism-related businesses are working hard to build back stronger.

With a $1.2-million investment, Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation (SWOTC) is providing non-repayable contributions of up to $20,000 to local tourism-oriented businesses. These contributions are supporting costs associated with adapting and eventually reopening, such as space renovations and retrofits, purchase of equipment, fixtures and personal protective equipment, as well as support for technology and digitization. This project, in partnership with Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, Tourism Sarnia Lambton, Middlesex County Economic Development and Tourism London. When complete, is expected to support more than 100 businesses and maintain 320 jobs.

TJ Stables, an Indigenous-owned  recreational equine facility  used the support to purchase Tipis to offer an overnight experience and expand the facility’s digital accommodation offerings.

Garlics of London was able to use the funds to rebuild its bar space to allow for social distancing for both staff and guests and accommodate more guests when it is safe to do so.

The Iron Kettle, a Francophone-owned B&B, pivoted to making bread to offset lost accommodation revenue. Owner Benjamin LeBlanc-Beaudoin’s bread business became so successful he has purchased a commercial oven and supplies with support from SWOTC  to expand this endeavour.

The Government of Canada is working to support these businesses and communities by helping to maintain jobs and prepare the tourism sector for a strong future comeback. 


"Like many of our nation’s job sectors, our tourism industry has felt the negative impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. With this funding from FedDev Ontario, businesses and communities in southwestern Ontario are able to adapt their operations and prepare to safely welcome visitors when they are able to do so. Our message to our tourism sector is clear: we have been here for you throughout this pandemic, and we will continue to support you and your critical sector to prepare to thrive in the future.”
- The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

“In London, the tourism industry is an integral source of employment and income for many people in our community. Today’s investment has meant targeted support for more than 100 businesses in the region during this challenging chapter of the pandemic.”
- Kate Young, Member of Parliament for London West

“London has felt the impacts of the pandemic and so has its local tourism industry. The investment in the Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation is delivering financial support directly to our region’s tourism-oriented businesses, so they can maintain over 300 jobs and acclimatize to the new way of doing business in the sector’s future."
- Peter Fragiskatos, Member of Parliament for London North Centre

“Tourism is a key driver of our regional economy in Windsor-Essex. This timely funding from our federal government will help the local tourism sector and the many businesses that depend on it recover from COVID-19 and stand strong in our region.”
- Irek Kusmierczyk, Member of Parliament for Windsor-Tecumseh

“The tourism industry, which has contributed up to $2 billion in annual spending in southwestern Ontario, has struggled with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the struggle, we have been inspired by the resilience, innovation, and dedication from Destination Marketing Organizations and their tourism operators within our region. We applaud FedDev Ontario for helping us reach out to our operators and make this into a robust industry.”
- Jim Hudson, Executive Director, Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation

“We were so excited to receive the news about this grant. With this support we were able to enhance our product offerings at the stables, acquiring Tipis to expand our authentic overnight experiences for guest accommodations.”
- Terry Jenkins, Owner, TJ Stables

“Amongst all the negative circumstances of the pandemic, this was a positive and gave me the opportunity to improve our business by providing a safe and good-looking area for staff and guests. I am super thankful and excited to re-open offering an improved place.”
- Edin Pehilj, Garlics of London

“Without this support, my family, my team and my community wouldn’t be where we are today.”
- Benjamin Leblanc-Beaudoin, Innkeeper Iron Kettle B&B

Quick facts

  • In Ontario, tourism and supporting industries account for $39.4 billion of GDP and directly and indirectly support more than 820,000 jobs.

  • This project is part of a series of investments across southern Ontario totaling $14.8 million to support the region’s tourism sector in adapting to the impacts of COVID-19.

  • Since November 1, 2015, FedDev Ontario has invested over $165 million in nearly 500 tourism-related projects. This includes over $90 million for over 320 Regional Relief and Recovery Fund projects.

  • Subject to parliamentary approval, Budget 2021 proposes $500 million over two years through the Tourism Relief Fund for local tourism businesses to adapt their products and services to public health measures, recover from the pandemic and position themselves for growth; and $200 million over two years to support major festivals and events. Subject to Parliamentary approval, these measures will be delivered by the regional development agencies, including FedDev Ontario in southern Ontario.

Associated links


Catherine Mounier-Desrochers
Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages

Media Relations
FedDev Ontario
Website: www.FedDevOntario.gc.ca

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