Government of Canada supports Ottawa Bluesfest and tourism industry

News release

FedDev Ontario invests over $10 million to support return of Ottawa Bluesfest and three tourism projects in Ottawa region

June 16, 2022 – Ottawa, Ontario

As the nation’s capital, Ottawa draws millions of visitors each year to its tourist attractions, major events and sites of natural beauty and historic significance. Ottawa Bluesfest − a 10-day, multi-staged music festival − is one of the city’s top attractions, known for welcoming some of the world’s highest-profile talent and hundreds of thousands of tourists annually. The cancellation of Ottawa Bluesfest in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic resulted in significant loss of revenue for the local economy. The Government of Canada is committed to revitalizing major events and festivals and the hard-hit tourism industry, positioning these sectors for a strong economic future.

Today, the Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), announced over $10 million to support Ottawa Bluesfest and three Ottawa-based tourism operators.

Ottawa Bluesfest will receive an investment of over $9.8 million through the Major Festivals and Events Support Initiative (MFESI) to help the festival return to its pre-pandemic scale, as well as support the expansion of the mainstage area and the purchase of a new portable stage, to expand and increase capacity for its highest-profile shows.

This investment will enable Ottawa Bluesfest to attract visitors to the festival and be better positioned for long-term success, while providing spillover economic and job benefits to businesses across the region.  Before the pandemic, festivals including Ottawa Bluesfest brought over 300,000 visitors to the city and accounted for $220 million in annual spending in the city, with positive benefits across the local tourism industry.

An additional investment of more than $250,000 through the Tourism Relief Fund (TRF) will support three tourism businesses in the region: Haunted Walks Inc., Alicja Confections Inc., and Escape Tours and Rentals, as they recover from the pandemic and attract visitors through new products and services.

Additional details on projects that received support can be found in the backgrounder.


“Major festivals and tourist attractions in Ottawa are vital to the local economy for Ottawa residents and visitors. Ottawa Bluesfest attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually to the city of Ottawa—bringing in significant revenue and creating jobs throughout the region. Today’s investment will help Ottawa Bluesfest and local tourism operators bounce back from the pandemic and once again bring high profile musical talent, increased tourism revenue to local business and economic growth to our nation’s capital.”
The Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

“Ottawa Bluesfest is a globally-renowned event that is near and dear to the city of Ottawa and has been sorely missed during the past two years, as have the tourist attractions and events across our city. Revitalizing and restoring vibrancy to our downtown core following the pandemic, is a priority for our federal government. With the support announced today for Ottawa Bluesfest and local tourism operators, these companies will work to enhance their offerings and bounce back. Ottawa is open for tourists!”
Yasir Naqvi, Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre

“Festivals and tourist attractions such as Ottawa Bluesfest make Ottawa a destination of choice for visitors from near and far, with far-reaching impacts on our local economy. Investments like those made today are helping to build a strong and resilient future.”
Marie-France Lalonde, Member of Parliament for Orléans

“Our government is committed to ensuring the tourism, events and cultural sectors have the supports they need to recover from the impacts of the pandemic. The investments announced today for Ottawa Bluesfest and three local tourism operators are making a difference for these organizations that attract visitors and add to the vibrant culture that makes Canada so special.”
Mona Fortier, President of the Treasury Board and Member of Parliament for Ottawa-Vanier 

“Ottawa Bluesfest and other local tourism projects bring critical economic impacts for the National Capital Region. Investments like today’s announcements ensure that our economy can continue a strong recovery, and that residents can continue to enjoy what makes our region such a special place.”
Greg Fergus, Member of Parliament for Hull-Aylmer

“After a difficult two years of Ottawa Bluesfest being cancelled due to the pandemic, this contribution through FedDev Ontario’s Major Festivals and Events Support Initiative is going to ensure the viability and growth of the festival in 2022 and beyond. With this support, we look forward to seeing Ottawa Bluesfest come back bigger and better than ever."
Mark Monahan, Executive Director, Ottawa Bluesfest

"As a creative tourism business, it quickly became clear we would not survive the pandemic with innovation alone. The investment provided by FedDev Ontario through the Tourism Relief Fund was a critical piece in the puzzle of how to adapt to survive and thrive during the most challenging period in our company’s long history.”
Glen Shackleton, Founder, Haunted Walks Inc.

Quick facts

  • Since 1994, the annual Ottawa Bluesfest has featured some of the highest profile musical talent in the world. The festival is a landmark event in Ottawa, and according to Billboard Magazine, is one of the top 10 music festivals in the world.

  • The Original Haunted Walk inc. in Ottawa takes visitors on a ghost tour of the national capital’s spookiest spots, included Bytown Museum, the Fairmont Chateau Laurier and historic jail.

  • Escape Bicycle Tours and Rentals offers of leisure equipment including bicycles, stand up paddleboards and e-scooters, and provides private and group bike tours in the Ottawa region.

  • Alicja Confections Inc. offers chocolates and confections including its most popular product—a chocolate bar that can be mailed. To date, the company has mailed more than 50,000 bars of chocolate. 

  • The Major Events and Festivals Support Initiative (MFESI) is a $200 million national fund to support major Canadian festivals and events that have been hit hard by the economic impacts of COVID-19 as they adapt and enhance their events. The program is delivered in southern Ontario by FedDev Ontario.

  • 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 projects or Indigenous focussed projects. FedDev Ontario is delivering nearly $120 million of the Tourism Relief Fund across southern Ontario.

  • Since 2015, the Government of Canada, through FedDev Ontario, has invested over $190 million in over 180 projects in Ottawa region, creating and maintaining nearly 8,000 jobs and maintaining over 6,000 jobs. This includes almost $50 million for tourism projects in Ottawa region.

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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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