To alleviate the pressures of the pandemic-related recession and lockdown measures, in March 2021 the Government of Ontario announced the creation of the Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant to help businesses in the tourism and travel sector. However, after its launch in May 2021, take-up of the grant had been lower than expected, as indicated by staff at the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries.
In May 2021, TIAO conducted a survey to understand the factors behind the low take-up of the grant. Chiefly, the survey revealed challenges with grant eligibility criteria and application procedures which contributed to low take-up of the grant by early June.
The complete findings of this survey are available in our new research report, Early Business Engagement with the Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant. This report provides a snapshot of business engagement with the Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant circa late May to early June.
The report also outlines our advocacy on this issue. Since conducting the survey, TIAO has shared the survey data with the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries so that they can review and address the issues experienced by businesses in accessing the grant. TIAO has additionally advocated for expansion of the grant eligibility criteria on eligible business activities. Largely in response to our policy feedback and advocacy, the Ministry has since made some changes to the application procedures for the grant, enabling more businesses to apply for this grant, particularly Northern Ontario businesses and Indigenous tourism businesses throughout Ontario.
Our survey data demonstrates our industry’s ongoing need for government support to alleviate the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This support is crucial to the capacity of Ontario’s tourism businesses to rebuild, recover, and remain sustainable for the long-term.
We will continue our policy advocacy to ensure that the Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant continues to support the solvency and recovery of tourism businesses. Reopening does not mean recovery.
To access the complete research report please click here.