Government of Canada announces $68.5 million in relief support for southern Ontario tourism sector

News release

Investment will help over 1,300 tourism entities, including Indigenous tourism, recover, while creating and maintaining up to 4,200 jobs

April 6, 2022 – Ottawa, Ontario   

Tourism is essential to the vitality of local businesses and communities across southern Ontario, bringing millions of visitors to the region each year. Indigenous tourism offers unique opportunities for Indigenous cultural expression and preservation to be shared with visitors from around the world. The Government of Canada is continuing to support the tourism sector as Canada recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring local tourism businesses have the tools they need to position themselves for a strong and resilient economic future.

Today, the Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) announced a total investment of $68.5 million through the Tourism Relief Fund for Indigenous Tourism Ontario and 11 Regional Tourism Organizations (RTOs) across southern Ontario. This investment will help tourism businesses and communities safely welcome back visitors, recover from the impacts of the pandemic and prepare for future growth.

With an investment of $3.5 million, Indigenous Tourism Ontario will provide non-repayable contributions of up to $100,000 to Indigenous businesses, not-for-profit organizations, Band Councils, and Indigenous communities to invest in new or enhanced tourism experiences, upgrade tourism assets, and attract domestic and international tourists. ITO will also deliver the Renew Indigenous Tourism program to support Indigenous organizations, businesses, and entrepreneurs as they work to recover from the pandemic. This investment will support up to 40 Indigenous projects to create and maintain up to 100 jobs.

As part of this investment, 11 RTOs across southern Ontario will also receive a combined investment of $65 million to distribute funding through non-repayable contributions of up to $100,000 to southern Ontario tourism-oriented businesses and organizations to innovate and invest in new and enhanced tourism experiences to attract visitors from within Canada and around the world. This investment will support up to 1,300 tourism entities and create or maintain up to 4,100 jobs. Please see the backgrounder for additional project details.

In total, this overall investment will support 1,340 tourism entities and create and maintain 4,200 jobs. More information on how to apply for support will be available on the ITO and eligible RTO’s websites shortly.

As well, the application portal for the Tourism Relief Fund remains open on the FedDev Ontario website and interested organizations are encouraged to apply online.


“The Government of Canada investment announced today will ensure small tourism businesses and organizations in southern Ontario are supported as they find new and innovative ways to attract visitors. The tourism sector is vital to communities and drives economic growth in local economies in southern Ontario and across Canada. Our government will continue to ensure the tourism sector has the tools it needs to recover so it is well-positioned for a strong and resilient economic future.”
The Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

“Our government is committed to supporting the tourism sector, including Indigenous communities and organizations, by providing opportunities for their success. This investment from FedDev Ontario will do just that—helping tourism operators to get the tools they need to bounce back and be well-positioned for the future. We are here for the tourism industry as we prepare to see the other side of this pandemic, and we continue to support tourism operators as they help our economy come back stronger.”
The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance

“Indigenous Tourism Ontario is extremely proud to be working very closely with the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario to directly support Indigenous tourism operators. We believe this type of mutually beneficial regional collaboration is what will lead to a renewed, rejuvenated and prosperous tourism recovery for all.”
Kevin Eshkawkogan, President & CEO, Indigenous Tourism Ontario

“This opportunity to facilitate investment into tourism product and destination development will help accelerate the recovery of the tourism economy within Ontario’s southwest and across the province. The type of support being offered through the Tourism Relief Fund will allow stakeholders to make strategic investments resulting in long-term growth. We are looking forward to working with FedDev Ontario on this important program.”
-Susan Judd, Board Chair, Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation (RTO1)


Quick facts

  • ITO is an Indigenous-led not-for-profit organization that provides business supports, training, marketing campaigns and branding to Indigenous-owned tourism operators as well as supporting experience development, including certification of authentic Indigenous experiences and Indigenous culinary tourism in tourism-dependent communities across Ontario.

  • RTOs are independent, not-for-profit organizations in Ontario that are responsible for tourism marketing, development and management at a regional level.

  • Today’s $68.5-million Government of Canada investment is pending successful completion of signed contribution agreements.

  • The tourism industry accounts for $39.4 billion of Ontario’s gross domestic product (GDP) and supports more than 820,000 jobs. Ontario also has the largest Indigenous tourism industry in Canada, contributing $622 million of gross domestic product, supporting nearly 13,000 jobs and over 550 Indigenous Tourism businesses.

  • The Government of Canada’s $500-million Tourism Relief Fund is helping tourism-oriented businesses and organizations recover from the pandemic and prepare for future growth, with a minimum of $50 million of the Fund allocated to supporting Indigenous-led tourism organizations. FedDev Ontario is delivering nearly $120 million of the Tourism Relief Fund across southern Ontario. 

  • Since November 2015, the Government of Canada, through FedDev Ontario, has invested over $82.5 million in over 200 tourism-related projects across southern Ontario, creating over 600 jobs and maintaining almost 4,720 jobs. FedDev Ontario has also invested $127.6 million in over 165 projects that have been led by an Indigenous business/organization or where Indigenous peoples are beneficiaries.  

Associated links


Monica Granados
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

Media Relations
FedDev Ontario


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