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Ontario government pledges $100 million to help tourism sector recover from COVID-19

TORONTO — Ontario will invest $100 million in the province's tourism sector to help it recover from the impact of COVID-19.

Tourism Minister Lisa MacLeod said Monday that the money will be distributed through the new Tourism Recovery Program, which will help for-profit tourism businesses in the attraction, accommodation, and leisure travel sectors.

"The last 18 months of the pandemic have been the most challenging Ontario's tourism industry has ever faced," said MacLeod. "Previously an economic powerhouse for the province, tourism has been hit by the triple threat that COVID-19 represents – a health, economic and social crisis." 

MacLeod said that the funding will help support regionally significant businesses, while protecting jobs in communities that rely on the tourism industry.

Eligible tourism businesses include inns and lodges, boat tours, ski centres, live performance venues, cinemas, drive-in theatres, and amusement and water parks.

The province said the program will support tourism businesses that have experienced a loss of at least 50 per cent of eligible revenue in 2020-21 compared to 2019. 

Applications for the program open on Oct. 13.

NDP legislator Michael Mantha, who serves as the tourism critic for the Opposition, said that the funding is "long overdue" and needs to be delivered faster.

"Waiting so long for this long-promised OTRP could be the last straw for some tourism business operators, who have done everything possible to keep their dreams alive and their staff teams employed," said Mantha.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 27, 2021.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version had an incorrect spelling for MacLeod's last name on second reference.