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  • This week, TIAO attended the 2023 Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference. We were joined by our tourism delegation, consisting of Ontario Tourism Education Corporation (OTEC), the Ontario Snow Resorts Association (OSRA), Indigenous Tourism Ontario (ITO), Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario (NOTO), Camping in Ontario, Kingston Accommodation Partners (KAP), and Destination Northern Ontario (DNO) – together, we met with a total of 11 provincial ministries.  

    Our main focus was economic recovery and how government and industry can work together to enable tourism businesses to overcome longstanding barriers and fully leverage the opportunities to rebuild and prosper, both now and in the future.
     

    In our meeting with Minister Lumsden and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, we discussed a Tourism Workforce Strategy to address the ongoing labour concerns that are widespread thro0ughout our industry and province, as well as recommending destination marketing campaigns that showcase Ontario’s tourism offer to domestic and international markets. TIAO will continue to work with the MTCS and Minister Lumsden to rebuild and grow our industry.  

    In our meeting with the Hon. Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, we focused on immigration reform to ensure immigration pathways meet recruitment and retention demands of the tourism and hospitality industry. TIAO also made recommendations to ensure the range of tourism and hospitality careers is represented in career awareness resources to provide jobseekers with a breadth of career options. 

    In our meeting with the Hon. Graydon Smith, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, we advocated for resource-based tourism operators, exploring longer-term land tenure options for outpost camps and how we can support the recovery of outfitters.  

    TIAO also met with the Hon. Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development and Minister of Indigenous Affairs. We discussed developing a Northern Tourism Opportunity Fund to amplify tourism promotion and product development in remote and Northern regions and expanding heated rest area infrastructure along Northern highways. In our meeting with IAO, we recommended strategies to facilitate the growth and long-term sustainability of Indigenous tourism businesses, support for Indigenous business development, and encouraging the involvement of Indigenous peoples in Ontario's tourism industry.  

    In TIAO’s meeting with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), we discussed strategies to support tourism businesses, organizations, and workers in Ontario. These include investments in the delivery of rural and Northern broadband, support for Indigenous food tourism in rural and Northern regions, and intergovernmental support for an LMIA exemption for tourism and hospitality operators accessing labour through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. 

    Lastly, in our meeting with the Treasury Board Secretariat, we discussed the Ontario Staycation Tax Credit, strategies to support struggling Northern tourism sectors, and long-term planning and investment that supports the resilience of Ontario’s rural tourism economies.

    Image Furthermore, at the TIAO booth, we met with over 50 rural and Northern municipal councillors, civil servants, and mayors. During these municipal meetings, TIAO gained in-depth perspective on the challenges that are impacting the local growth and sustainability of tourism businesses. Labour, infrastructure, affordable housing, and transportation were main themes that were raised from multiple municipalities.  

    We thank the provincial Ministries, Cabinet Ministers, Parliamentary Assistants, Municipal councillors, and Mayors for taking the time meet with us and discuss how to strengthen and grow Ontario’s tourism industry. We look forward to continuing the conversation in the coming weeks and months. TIAO continues to work with all levels of government to ensure a whole government approach to promote the recovery, growth, and competitiveness of Ontario tourism.

    To review each Ministry briefs, please see here.

  • 19 Jan 2023 by Chris Bloore

    Hot on the heels of the release of the ‘State of the Ontario Tourism Industry’ report last year, the TIAO team, with the support of our partners, is now fully focused on engaging government, elected officials, and senior bureaucrats on the key recommendations found in the report

    Next week, three years since the last in-person Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) Conference in Toronto, TIAO is excited to swap Teams and Zoom meetings for face-to-face conversations with government ministers and municipal politicians and bureaucrats. TIAO will lead a delegation of tourism leaders representing our diverse industry. I'm pleased to report that we have twelve confirmed meetings with cabinet ministers, including key meetings with Ministers of Tourism, Labour and the Treasury Board. The TIAO team will also be engaging locally elected representatives and key local bureaucrats as we seek to expand our network of partnerships and progress key files on infrastructure, transportation, and economic support for our rural tourism partners. In next week’s newsletter we will provide feedback on the conference and key learnings.  

    We’ve had several enquiries from members waiting for updates on the most recent tranche of TRF funding that was administered by FedDev Ontario. It has been confirmed to us by government that notifications on the status of applications have now started to go out to applicants. If you haven’t received notification on the status of your application by the middle of next week, then please do contact the TIAO team and we will be happy to follow up on your behalf.

    Last week, the Ontario Government opened its pre-budget consultation process. This is your opportunity to feedback directly into setting the priorities of the provincial government. Open till February 10, you have the opportunity to submit your own written submission to government here. There will also be the opportunity to attend in-person and virtual consultation events across Ontario, that we will advertise via the newsletter, that you might want to attend. If you would like to include recommendations from the ‘State of the Ontario Tourism Industry’ and would like extra information for your supportive comments, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a member of the team and we would be happy to assist you.

    Picture: Ontario Chamber of Commerce 2023 PAC Meeting

    Finally, TIAO is pleased to continue to play a proactive role as a member of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) Policy and Advocacy Committee (PAC) championing key files for the tourism industry within the chamber network (pictured). This week, I attended the PAC to talk about the challenges still facing the tourism industry including inflation, cost of living, debt, and labour. These key topics have also formed the basis for a partnership with Twenty31, for a poll we put in the field together recently, as we seek to dig deep into customers perceptions about the tourism industry in Ontario.

    Of course, this report and newsletter are only a snapshot of the work that the TIAO team is currently undertaking. If you would like to contact us on a specific issue then please don’t hesitate to reach out to a member of the team.


    Chris Bloore

    President & CEO, TIAO

  • 12 Jan 2023 by Simone Gonsalves

    These past few months, TIAO has been working behind the scenes to execute a series of workshops titled Elevating Ontario Experiences!  

    The Elevating Ontario Experiences project is building upon a previous successful project led by Destination Canada in 2019. We helped with the outreach as only 3 regions were available with that program. This year, we have the opportunity to engage new operators and communities - ensuring all regions in Ontario have the chance to participate in this project and work with industry experts such as the Culinary Tourism Alliance and BC Hughes to bring their tourism ideas to life and in drive economic growth for the province.

    This project focuses on providing operators with knowledge of strategy development and tools to create or elevate an experience within winter/shoulder season or culinary activities, both in their business and region. Each participant receives 1:1 coaching to present their unique idea and apply the strategies learned, with the guidance and constructive feedback from the industry experts. 

    As one of TIAO’s Special Projects Coordinators, I was excited to take the lead for this project. Since the sessions are tailored to each tourism region in Ontario, my role is to connect the Regional Tourism Organizations (RTOs) and tourism operators to the consultants. It's exciting getting to work alongside the RTOs to identify tourism businesses that show potential to grow their revenue and conduct outreach, inviting them to participate in these workshops. 

    While in college, I learned a lot about economic development, the life cycle of a destination, and how to expand winter/shoulder season experiences – using case studies such as the Toronto Zoo to make data-based recommendations. These learnings helped to spark my interest in experience development. It's really interesting to watch the process from start to finish. A simple idea from a business becoming a revenue-generating experience. A group of 12 operators and these industry experts coming together to discuss and share unique ideas – you get to watch these operators have their “ah-ha!” moment and get inspired by simple idea sharing and having conversations with other businesses in their region.

    These projects are necessary to the industry as it helps to identify areas of growth and development to expand Ontario’s tourism potential, while connecting local businesses together, engaging them in meaningful peer-to-peer discussions, collaborations, and capacity building. Without these projects, operators may not recognize industry trends, potential partnerships, and how to utilize their regions assets and unique selling points year-round. 

  • From all of us at TIAO, we wish you a happy holiday season! This was yet another busy year for our team. Before we close our offices for the holidays, we asked some end-of-year questions to some of the TIAO team members to reflect on our accomplishments and highlights of 2022! Read through to get to know our team more.

     

    Mark Capistrano
    Special Projects Coordinator

     

    Q: What have been some of the highlights of your year?

    Simply put, every single in-person event I attended, from Rendes-vous Canada to OTS22, to job fairs and other conferences have been some of the best parts of my year; because the best part of our industry is the connections you make with people.

     


    Simone Gonsalves
    Special Projects Coordinator

     

    Q: What have been some of the highlights of your year?

    Presenting at the Ontario Tourism Summit 2022 on The Labour Crisis: A Youth Perspective!



     

    Q: What do you want to see more of in the tourism industry?

    Inclusion of young people's voices. In order to solve persistent issues such as the labour crisis, we need to listen to and highlight the recommendations presented by the younger generation. This will be most helpful to the industry - teaching us how to reshape work environments to meet their needs.

    Q: What are you looking forward to in the new year?

    Continuing to execute the Elevating Ontario Experiences culinary and winter/shoulder season workshops!


    Landon Logie
    Event Manager

     

    Q: What have been some of the highlights of your year?

    The biggest highlight of my year with TIAO is of course the Ontario Tourism Summit. OTS is one of my favourite events that I get to work on, and it will never cease to amaze me how we continue to raise the bar for this event, year after year.

     


    Leni Brem
    Staekholder Relations Manager

     

    Q: What have been some of the highlights of your year?

    Starting work with TIAO, being part of OTS, getting to know more stakeholders.



     

    Q: What do you want to see more of in the tourism industry?

    More collaboration, diversity, inclusivity and innovation!

    Q: What are you looking forward to in the new year?

    Meeting more stakeholders and getting out to visit more operators in Ontario.

    Q: How has tourism experiences in Ontario been beneficial for you and your community this year?

    I think that the way the tourism industry rallied together in the last couple of years has had far-reaching impacts for so many communities, beyond what we might think of as "tourism". Thinking of my own corner of the city, the Gerrard India Bazaar, we have so many small businesses owned by locals who were in a really bad spot, but who benefited and survived because of the way people came together to support local; businesses shared innovative ideas and "pivots" that others could adopt or complement; and collaborations took place that had businesses supporting each other and sharing both the costs and benefits of projects and marketing, etc.


    Caitlyn Drexler
    Policy & Research Officer

     

    Q: What have been some of the highlights of your year?

    A few of the highlights of 2022 at TIAO for me include the Ontario Tourism Summit held in Muskoka, speaking at the Northern Ontario Tourism Summit in Thunder Bay, and the release of the Ontario State of the Tourism Industry Report - which I worked on with my colleague, Dr. Jessica Ng. The report was the culmination of several projects and research initiatives TIAO has worked on throughout the last year and every member of the TIAO team had a hand in creating this report! I am proud of the work our team has done!


    Sapphire Supersad
    Special Projects Coordinator

     

    Q: What have been some of the highlights of your year?

    The Rendez-vous Canada Reception at the Steam Whistle Brewery was definitely a highlight for me. There was so much delicious food, great energy and wonderful little gifts to remember the experience.

     

    Q: What do you want to see more of in the tourism industry?

    Sharing experiences and storytelling. One of the Building Inclusive Tourism webinars that stayed with me the most was "Advancing Our Knowledge - Always Learning" - if more sessions, webinars and opportunities could continue to occur throughout the industry of storytelling and experience sharing like that one, I would love it.

    Q: What are you looking forward to in the new year?

    I'm looking forward to more opportunities for in-person events to engage and meet new people within the industry, which is something I've grown to appreciate the more I get to do it.

    Q: How has tourism experiences in Ontario been beneficial for you and your community this year?

    One tourism experience that was beneficial for me was speaking at OTS2022. It was an opportunity that let me voice my honest opinions of the tourism industry as a member of the younger generation and post-secondary students. Not only was it a major confidence boost, but it made me feel like my opinions and observations of the tourism industry were valid and should be heard as the younger generation continues to enter the industry. I like to think it benefitted my community of post-grads and youth who hope for change in the industry.


    Thank you for reading and getting to know the TIAO Team better! As we look back upon the past year, we would like to acknowledge the impact of the tourism industry stakeholders, partners and members who have helped us shape the future of tourism in Ontario. Thanks for a great year!

  • 24 Nov 2022 by Chris Bloore

    This week’s advocacy report reads more like travel diary as the TIAO team has been on the road across the province to attend three key industry and economic events.  These events are a critical part of how we report back to members on our latest activities, but also how we build new relationships to strengthen our advocacy work. Whist it’s been a logistical challenge to ensure TIAO representation at all events - and we’ve not been able to have the full representation we would usually like - it has been a truly wonderful problem to have after the past 30 months and I would like to congratulate the organizers for putting on such informative and energizing events.

    At the start of the week, Jessica and myself attended the TIAC Tourism Congress in Ottawa.  I arrived early to attend a meeting of the Provincial Territorial Tourism Industry Association of Canada (PTTIA). This is a group of tourism association organizations from across Canada and is a critical way for us to align our messaging to government and share updates and best practices happening in our own jurisdictions. It was encouraging to hear conformity around the table about some of the shared positive stories regarding the summer season, however, there was collective agreement around the table that the challenges of labour, the slow return of business event and travel as well as the economic and social legacies of the pandemic such as debt and concerns about the ease of travel to Canada, still pose a severe challenge to the pace and extent of our recovery. 

    Congress itself kicked off with a review of the past twelve months and some of the key advocacy achievements of TIAC, the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses of which TIAC co-chaired and the    Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable.  It can be easy to forget sometimes just how much work has been accomplished when so much can change on a weekly basis, something that happened regularly during the height of the pandemic. Specifically, the work done to deliver the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program, when other programs ended, is a testament to the powerful message that the tourism industry was able to deliver. I know my PTTIA counterparts and TIAO’s operators and stakeholders are extremely grateful for the work of Beth and the TIAC teams during the pandemic period.

    There were many excellent panels and keynote speakers on the future of our borders, transportation, labour, business travel and events and sustainable tourism and climate change. It’s clear that the tourism industry could be one of the few parts of our economy that could grow rapidly with the right levels of regulatory and policy support. Federal Tourism Minister, Randy Boissonnault, was in attendance at the summit and gave an overview of the state of the tourism industry as well as his vision for the industry.  TIAO looks forward to the contents of the Federal Tourism Growth Strategy, which is expected to be released in Q1 of 2023 by Minister Boissonnault which we hope will meet many of the challenges detailed by TIAC’s and TIAO’s tourism growth strategy submissions.

    Finally, I would like to congratulate Ontario based Canadian Tourism Award winners recognized at the Gala Awards:

    • Floor13 Business Event Award: Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (2022 Conference)
    • Air Canada Business of the Year Award: Great Wolf Lodge
    • Tourism HR Canada Employer of the Year Award: Tourism Kingston
    • Tourism HR Canada Employee of the Year Award: Kaleigh Potts, Client Services Lead, Expedition Support, Assistant Program Director of Adventure Canada

    Congratulations to the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, Kaleigh Potts, Great Wolf Lodge and Tourism Kingston and to all those nominated! 

    Our Policy and Research Officer, Caitlyn Drexler, attended and presented at the Northern Ontario Tourism Summit in Thunder Bay and further down in this newsletter you can read a report back from Caitlyn. On my return from Ottawa, I attended the Ontario Chamber of Commerce Economic Summit in Toronto. TIAO is currently in the final stages of completing our inaugural ‘State of the Ontario Tourism Industry’ report in partnership with the OCC after a series of roundtables with Ministers Neil Lumsden and Monte McNaughton. The pandemic has demonstrated how integral the visitor economy is to the general health of Ontario’s economy and that was the message I shared with fellow delegates and cabinet ministers. 

    There were some excellent panels including a review of Ontario’s health sector and how it can be strengthened and how Ontario's business sector can lead the way on net-zero. Both extremely relevant to the future of the tourism industry.  One of TIAO’s members Nieuport Aviation was deservedly recognized for the ‘most outstanding business recovery award’ and the summit was a great opportunity to meet chambers of commerce and businesses from across the province that have expressed an interest in building stronger links and partnerships with their tourism counterparts. Building these links and greater lines of communication and partnerships with the business community is essential to our future and is something TIAO is committed to lead.

    Outside of events, this week, Minister Parm Gill formally moved a series of regulatory changes via the 'Less Red Tape, Stronger Ontario Act'. The new red tape reduction package includes 28 new measures, including commonsense changes to spa and hot tub regulations. This was a key request from TIAO and our stakeholders and we thank Minister Gill and Minister Lumsden for their action to support our members in Ontario. In addition, as referenced in last week's newsletter, the portable benefits consultation opened by the government of Ontario remains open and I would encourage all members to take part in the survey by clicking here.

    Finally, thank you to those of you that have signed our letter to Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy  regarding our proposed extension of the Ontario Staycation Tax Credit. If you’ve not signed the letter already, there is still time to do so by clicking here. At a time when we know that international travel will not return to pre-pandemic levels for some time, it’s so important for us to continue to grow and instill a sense of ‘support local’ amongst Ontarians. Like financial incentives given to other industries, an extended financial incentive to Ontarians to explore local should be an integral part of our recovery. So please don’t delay and sign our letter by 5PM on Monday. 

    A slightly different advocacy report than usual this week, normal service will resume next week. But as ever, please do reach out to us if there are any issues you would like to raise with us or if you require any help or assistance.

    Yours sincerely,

     

     

     

     

    Christopher Bloore, President and CEO


    NORTHERN ONTARIO TOURISM SUMMIT

    This week, TIAO Research & Policy Officer, Caitlyn Drexler, attended the 2022 Northern Ontario Tourism Summit in Thunder Bay, ON. The event was hosted by Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario (NOTO) and Destination Northern Ontario (DNO) to bring together tourism businesses, organizations, and all levels of government to find solutions to challenges facing our industry.

    The summit hosted interactive workshops and seminars to learn about the latest trends in tourism in Northern Ontario, and Caitlyn presented on TIAO's advocacy and policy update. The presentation reviewed the challenges Northern Ontario tourism businesses are facing, what TIAO is working on for 2023, and notably, key highlights from the State of the Ontario Tourism Industry Report which is set to be released imminently.

    We appreciate the opportunity to speak to tourism stakeholders from across Northern Ontario and look forward to attending next year's summit!

     

  • 10 Nov 2022 by Chris Bloore

    Tomorrow, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we will fall silent in a moment of reflection to remember the ultimate sacrifice paid by our armed services in conflict and to maintain peace in defense of the freedoms and liberties that we enjoy in Canada. We honour their memories and give thanks to those that serve in our armed forces during times of war and peace to keep us safe. As well as marking Remembrance Day, November 8th marked Indigenous Veterans Day when we honour First Nation, Metis and Inuit soldiers and veterans and their long, distinguished legacy of serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. TIAO gives thanks to all our veterans for their service.  We will remember them.

    On Wednesday I was invited to address Destination Toronto’s Business Outlook Forum at the Omni King Edward Hotel. It was an excellent event full of critical information and analysis on Toronto’s performance during and as we inch out of the shadow of the pandemic. I was asked to talk about some of the key policy and political events that the TIAO team would be keeping a close eye on at the provincial and federal level. I spoke about the upcoming Federal Tourism Growth Strategy, changes to immigration rules and regulations, the introduction of portable benefits and how there is still space to further cut red tape and taxes to allow investment, expansion and growth within Ontario.  You can watch a recording of the entire forum here.

    On Monday November 14, the Ontario provincial government is set to release its fall economic statement. In this statement Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy  will give further details on the government's plan to execute its legislative priorities and give an update on the state of Ontario's economy. It is an important precursor to the next budget and TIAO will be providing a briefing delivered straight to your inbox on all the key points soon after its release.  

    Finally, next week TIAO will be launching a new campaign to extend the Ontario Staycation Tax Credit to 2023 and will be asking for your support by adding your name to our letter to the Ministry of Finance. The Ontario Staycation Tax Credit was an important tool to rebuilding confidence with customers that it was not only safe to travel again, but that the government wanted to actively incentivize Ontarians to support local operators. Across the province we saw how our industry innovatively used different marketing and communication strategies to encourage Ontarians to utilize the tax credit. But of course, the stop-start nature of 2022 and Omicron meant we didn’t get to fully utilize the credit in the way that we had hoped and with our recovery far from assured, we think its right to continue to incentive domestic travel. So please keep an eye out for our campaign launch next week in your inbox.

    Of course, if you have an issue, suggestion or policy you’d like to talk to the TIAO team about, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.

    Best wishes,

     

     

     

     

    Christopher Bloore, President and CEO


     

  • 27 Oct 2022 by Jessica Ng

    It’s been a busy week here at TIAO. We just returned from Deerhurst where we held our annual Ontario Tourism Summit. While at Summit, we managed to make great progress on some of our key files.  

    On the eve of Summit, the provincial government announced a crucial regulatory change pertaining to hot tubs at visitor accommodations. Effective October 28, 2022, R. R. O. 1990, Reg. 565: Public Pools will be amended to provide an exemption for public spas that are operated in conjunction with an individual dwelling unit or suite of a visitor accommodation for the exclusive use of its occupants. Provided that the required caution signage is posted, owners/operators of these pubic spas will no longer be required to meet the structural and equipment regulations outlined in the Regulation.  

    TIAO has worked closely with affected operators, stakeholders, and government partners to resolve this issue and is pleased that a regulatory solution has been reached.  

    For more information about this change, see here for the official summary of the amendment and see here for the Q&A document.  

    And while our industry continues to move forward and make economic progress, we are still a long way from full recovery. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a severe and enduring impact on Ontario’s tourism sectors. Border closures, capacity restrictions, and lockdowns exacerbated structural issues, which impact the capacity for our industry to take advantage of opportunities for economic growth. In need of a path forward, TIAO and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) worked closely with the sector over the last year to inform and develop: The State of the Ontario Tourism Industry Report.  

    The report examines challenges and opportunities facing Ontario’s tourism industry, focusing on themes of economy, labour, infrastructure, and the future of tourism in the province. It offers a blueprint for recovery, growth, and sustainability through practical recommendations to confront immediate and long-term challenges and to fully leverage the opportunities for economic prosperity.  

    While at Summit, we offered a sneak peek at the report. Key highlights and recommendations from the report are now available to read here. The full report will be released in late 2022 – stay tuned.  

    As always, thank you for your continued support. And of course, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send me an email at jng@tiaontario.ca.


     

     

    Jessica Ng
    Director, Policy & Government Affairs

  • 13 Oct 2022 by Chris Bloore

    On the Friday before thanksgiving, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Sean Fraser, made a key and welcome announcement on the government's intention to relax rules on the number of hours international students would be permitted to work off-campus. As many of you are aware, the previous maximum of twenty hours off-campus was preventing many students from being able to take up opportunities to work further hours and continued to hamper business' ability to fill labour gaps.

    TIAO was delighted to see this commonsense change being announced and thank our partners - especially TIAC - for their hard work in ensuring this key recommendation was delivered. This recommendation has been a key ask for the tourism industry. Moreover, Ontario and Canada as a whole are fortunate to have a significant number of students wanting to study and then work within our industry. They’re not just prospective employees, but people who will add to the fabric of our industry, communities and our province. I hope this is the start of further commonsense changes to immigration policies that level the playing field in helping those who want to work within our industry to be able to do so. Encouragingly, we know that Minister Monte McNaughton is keen to revisit the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program with the Federal government, that could further help our ability to attract international workers.

    Last week, TIAO hosted a hybrid Tourism roundtable with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) with Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, Neil Lumsden. With over 60 tourism leaders in attendance, we had a productive discussion regarding the state of the tourism industry in Ontario. The discussion included exchanges on labour challenges, the housing crisis, debt, immigration and regulatory barriers to growth, opportunities for investment, concern over the return of business events and travel and the importance of our gateway cities. Participants shared the latest information from their own sectors and regions but also industry led solutions that if recreated on a larger scale could help answer some of these key challenges identified. 

    The contents of the discussion and the ideas shared will become a central part of TIAO’s and the OCC’s State of the Tourism Industry Report, a blueprint of ideas that we believe are key to the tourism industry in Ontario, realizing its true potential as a key economic driver. Key recommendations of the report will be presented at the Ontario Tourism Summit in Muskoka and the full report released soon after. I would like to thank all participants for their time and articulate contributions to the discussion. We could have filled the room ten times over, but the discussion was optimistic and collaborative and Minister Lumsden made it clear in his remarks that the government is keen to hear solutions to the challenges that we face and work with us to deliver them.  

    Next week I will be joining colleagues in meeting Federal Members of Parliament, Senators and key bureaucrats as part of the TIAC Hill Days. This is an important set of lobby days organized by TIAC to ensure that all federal political representatives and civil servants are fully aware of the challenges facing the tourism industry and the opportunities that are there for the taking with the right investment and strategies. As we start to exit the pandemic there has never been a more important time for us to be speaking with federal representatives to ensure that they’re fully aware of the challenges of debt, the labour crisis and other obstacles to travel that will continue to hamper our recovery if not rectified. Whist I will be part of a broader team representing the entire tourism industry, I will of course ensure that Ontario, and the challenges particular to our province, are well represented. 

    Many of you have been in contact with me regarding progress on the consultation that featured on the Ontario Regulatory Registry on the proposed amendment to O. Reg 565: Public Pools. As you know, TIAO put forward our own set of commonsense changes to rectify the situation that has arisen regarding hot tubs and thank those TIAO members that took up our call for action to get your consultation responses in. TIAO has been informed that consultation responses have been collated and reviewed and we expect an update from government on proposed changes in the near future. TIAO continues to press for a speedy resolution to this issue so that businesses can take bookings with confidence. We will of course update members as soon as we hear anything. 

    Finally, we’re now hurtling towards the Ontario Tourism Summit in Muskoka on October 25-26. There are very limited tickets available for you to join us in what promises to be a compelling summit, so if you haven’t got your ticket yet, please don’t delay! 

    As ever, this is just a snapshot of the work that the TIAO team are currently undertaking. If there is an issue that you would like to raise with the team, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.

    Best Wishes,








    Chris Bloore
    President & CEO

  • 06 Oct 2022 by Chris Bloore

    Today, TIAO and the OCC hosted a second tourism industry roundtable. Thank you to all our attendees who participated and contributed to the discussion. We appreciate and thank the Honorable Neil Lumsden, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, for taking the time to listen and discuss with tourism operators and industry experts from across the province.

    The insights that we gathered during this consultation, will assist in forming a joint report with the OCC, examining the state of Ontario’s tourism industry after two unprecedented years navigating a global pandemic.   

    Lastly, a huge thank you to all our sponsors for making today’s tourism roundtable possible;

    • Labatt
    • Beer Canada
    • Ontario Federation of Agriculture
    • OTEC
    • Seneca College
    • Greater Toronto Airports Authority

     

  • 29 Sep 2022 by Chris Bloore

    This week started with the devastating news that we lost Keith Simmonds, General Manager and Vice President of Great Wolf Lodge of Niagara Falls, over the weekend.  

    The tourism industry in Ontario is a family - and a tight-knit one at that - and Keith was a prominent member. A powerful advocate for the tourism industry in Niagara and across Ontario, he was at the forefront of demonstrating the impact of the pandemic on the tourism industry. Keith was a multiple award winner for his work in tourism, but famously would always remind people that it was his team, or wolfpack as he would say, that deserve the true credit.  

    Keith’s energy and enthusiasm stretched so far, supporting his community and those around him. Many of you will know that just before Keith passed away, he had helped to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars through a sponsored cycle in aid of Campfire Circle, a charity that brings laughter and joy to kids and families affected by childhood cancer.  

    Keith was a former TIAO board member serving six full years and even after his term ended, he never stopped offering his time and expertise. Whether that was providing meditation and yoga sessions during our virtual summit in 2020 or when I became CEO of TIAO being on hand with sage advice for a brand-new CEO during a worldwide pandemic. Keith’s loss will be felt deeply within Niagara and Ontario, across the tourism community and for all of those who knew him. The thoughts of the TIAO staff team and Board of Director’s are with Keith’s family and friends during this time.  

    In keeping with the impact that Keith had on so many of us, there will be a celebration of his life on Sunday October 2, 2022, 11:30am at Niagara Falls Convention Centre, 6815 Stanley Ave., Niagara Falls, Ontario. For those unable to attend, it will be livestreamed at Keith Simmonds Celebration of Life.

    On Monday the Federal Government confirmed press speculation that they were officially lifting the remaining border and travel restrictions on October 1. The removal of the mandatory requirement to show proof of vaccination, submit public health information through the ArriveCAN app, undergo pre- or on-arrival testing or wear masks and planes has been a key part of TIAO advocacy efforts in support of TIAC for many months. Whilst this is welcome news and finally puts us on equal footing with many other destinations in the G7, the work begins now to reassure international travellers that they can again expect a seamless travel experience when visiting to Canada. On a personal level, I’d like to thank Beth Potter and the TIAC team for their tireless work on this issue and their persistence in representing tourism to the Federal Government.

    On Monday and Tuesday of this week, TIAO attended Tourism HR Canada’s Labour Market Forum in Ottawa. It was the first in-person forum since the start of the pandemic in 2020. Tourism and hospitality leaders from across the country joined together to discuss the depth of the crisis, propose legislative solutions and share best practices that can help ensure our recovery is not stalled by our inability to fill vacant positions. We know here in Ontario that the labour crisis is already having a debilitating impact, with businesses remaining closed several days of the week or unable to offer the level of service they would expect to provide their customers. Topics covered included regulatory reform, changing immigration processes, pathways to permanent residency and improving the standards and image of working within our industry.

    I would like to thank those that have completed our latest state of the tourism industry survey that aims to track the scale of the recovery during the summer period. We know from anecdotal information and land border crossing statistics available that the recovery remains fragile and uneven across the province. At the same time, some government loan programs are due for repayment at the end of the year. The information you provide us with helps us to provide credible data to reinforce our recommendations to the government. You can take part in our latest survey by clicking here.

    Finally, on Wednesday night, TIAO attended the Canadian Special Event Awards as a nominee for three different awards for the Ontario Tourism Summit 2021. I’m delighted to report that the TIAO team was awarded two awards for Best Virtual Event by an Association or Board and Best Event by an Association or Board! As you can imagine, I’m incredibly proud of the TIAO team, especially our summit curators Carol Greenwood and Landon Logie, for their vision and expertise in delivering a multiple award-winning event.

    Of course, it would be remiss of me not to remind you that if you’ve not secured your ticket for this year’s summit you can do so today by clicking here. Ensure you arrive Monday night, whether staying at Deerhurst Resort or Hidden Valley Resort, as you won’t want to miss Tuesday programming that begins at 8AM.

    As ever, this is only a snapshot of the work that TIAO has undertaken. If you have any questions or would like to raise an issue with us, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a team member and we will endeavor to get back to you as quickly as possible.

     





     

    Chris Bloore
    President & CEO

  • 15 Sep 2022 by Chris Bloore

    This is the first advocacy report I’ve written since returning from my first family holiday since 2020. This holiday was extra special for my family, as we welcomed my parents from the UK to meet their grandchild for the first time due to the pandemic. With my wife's parents also visiting, I managed to spend several weeks touring Ontario, getting to meet TIAO members face to face in the Niagara region, Blue Mountain, Georgian Bay and many places in between. Apart from a wonderful family holiday, it was also the first time I was able to meet TIAO members enjoying a successful summer period and hear from them about what was still holding them back from being able to maximize their recovery, listen to their concerns for the future and see the challenges of debt and the labour crisis firsthand. It is these conversations that invigorate our team in our advocacy efforts.

    Although we have never forgotten how incredible the tourism offer in Ontario is, I couldn’t help feeling incredibly proud of our industry and those that work within it. Despite the enormous personal and professional challenges of the worst parts of the pandemic, you’ve ensured that Ontarians and our international visitors have incredible memories to take home with them. But of course, whilst there is much to be encouraged by from our summer period, it’s critically important that we don’t let up on our efforts to remove those final obstacles to our recovery that could, if left unchecked, seriously undermine it.  

    Removing vaccine mandates, tackling debt and the economic legacies of the pandemic and answering our labour crisis remain critical challenges for the future of the tourism industry. At the recent AMO conference, we sat down with 17 provincial government ministries to detail these challenges and how the government can work with the sector to solve them. You can read our briefs for that conference and the issues we were speaking about by clicking here and see our Federal Growth Strategy submission by clicking here .

    On September 20th, TIAO is hosting a Forward Motion session entitled ‘Recruiting and Retaining Talent’ with Lisa Kelly, Program Manager on the Discover Ability Network, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. You can sign up for this complimentary session by clicking here.

    Finally, it would be remiss of me not to mention that tickets are selling fast for the Ontario Tourism Summit in Deerhurst next month and we’re thrilled at the enthusiasm for the event. As one of the lucky few to have seen the list of confirmed speakers and the content, it won’t surprise you to know that our Vice-President, Carol Greenwood, and events specialist, Landon Logie, have curated another outstanding couple of days. So, if you’ve not got around to buying your tickets, please visit our website to get yours!  

    As ever, if you have any questions or would like to raise an issue with the TIAO team, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.  

    Stay safe and I look forward to seeing you all again soon.

  • 01 Sep 2022 by Jessica Ng

    Economic recovery across the province’s tourism industry continues to progress but at a slow and uneven pace. As summer winds down, tourism businesses face the added challenge of sustaining visitation during the shoulder season—not to mention the challenges of inflation, high gas prices, debt to pay down, and the labour crisis. At this critical time in our economic recovery, bringing together industry stakeholders and government to discuss the state of tourism and to chart a path forward is crucial.  

    Last week, we did just that. We held the first of two roundtable consultations in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC). Focused on the labour crisis and with the Hon. Monte McNaughton (Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development) in attendance, the roundtable brought together DMOs, RTOs, sector associations, tourism operators, industry experts, chambers of commerce, and boards of trade across the province.  

    This roundtable was an important opportunity to have the Minister’s ear on what’s driving the labour crisis in the tourism industry and how industry can work with government to ensure that tourism has the workforce it needs to recover and thrive in Ontario. A big thank you to our participants for bringing a high calibre of knowledge, insights, and expertise to the table; to the OCC and our sponsors for their partnership; and to the TIAO team for an exceptionally well-executed event. We were delighted that the roundtable was well-received by Minister McNaughton and his team.  

    We’re currently in the midst of planning the second roundtable with the Hon. Neil Lumsden, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport in attendance. This roundtable will explore opportunities for growth, workforce development, the impacts of red tape, and the future of tourism in Ontario.  

    The insights gathered during these roundtable consultations will inform a joint report examining the state of Ontario’s tourism industry after two unprecedented years navigating a global pandemic. A ‘ground-level’ look at the industry’s recovery and its path forward, this report will include timely recommendations to the provincial and federal governments. Stay tuned for this report. 

    As always, thank you for your continued support. And of course, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send me an email at jng@tiaontario.ca 

     


     

    Jessica Ng

    Director, Policy & Government Affairs

  • 25 Aug 2022 by Jessica Ng

    Last week, TIAO and our tourism delegation met with cabinet ministers and their teams in person at the 2022 conference of the Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO) in Ottawa. This was an important opportunity to advocate on behalf of Ontario’s tourism industry by bringing key issues and recommendations to ministry teams, gauging the policy priorities of key ministries to incorporate into future advocacy, and fostering working relationships with key ministry officials and staff.  

    Joining us as part of our tourism delegation were Destination Northern Ontario, Indigenous Tourism Ontario, OTEC, Boating Ontario, OMCA, Camping in Ontario, Smart Serve, RTO9, Kingston Accommodation Partners, and Blue Mountain Village Association.   

    Our key AMO asks included: debt relief and action on commercial insurance, implementing a tourism workforce strategy, new tax incentives and partnerships to spur tourism growth, creating regional and localized solutions to the affordable housing crisis, continued transportation and infrastructure upgrades, climate change prevention and recovery supports, and long-term strategic investments to support the rebuild, growth, and resilience of our industry across tourism sectors and regions.   

    With our tourism delegation, TIAO met with 17 ministries including the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport; Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development; Treasury Board Secretariat; Ministry of Northern Development; Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry; Ministry of Indigenous Affairs; Ministry of Transportation; Ministry of Francophone Affairs; and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.  

    We met with MPP Mike Schreiner, leader of the Green Party of Ontario, and we also met with Mayor Cam Guthrie, chair of the Ontario Big City Mayors (OBCM). In our discussion with Mayor Guthrie, we discussed the impacts of rising visible homelessness and precarity on the safety of frontline tourism workers – and how TIAO can help advocate for the provincial resources that municipalities need to address this complex issue. 

    But that’s not all – we continued to raise awareness of the challenges facing tourism recovery at the TIAO booth in the AMO exhibition hall. TIAO met with various Mayors, Deputy Mayors, economic developer’s, CAO’s, councilors, and other regional organization leaders. We discussed the economic impact of tourism within their municipality and how we can work together to support the tourism industry. 

    After flagging our key asks at AMO, we will be pursuing follow-up meetings with ministries and municipal partners to discuss these issues and our recommendations in greater depth to support the rebuilding of Ontario’s tourism industry across all sectors and regions of the province. 

    As always, thank you for your continued support. And of course, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send me an email at jng@tiaontario.ca 

     


     

    Jessica Ng

    Director, Policy & Government Affairs

  • 04 Aug 2022 by Jessica Ng

    This week, we submitted TIAO’s contribution to the Federal Tourism Growth Strategy. Our contribution addressed the consultation’s focus areas—labour gaps and instability, investment attraction and destination development, and long-term economic growth across the country—through the lens of four critical themes: economic, labour, infrastructure, and sustainable tourism.  

    Our overarching message was that in order for tourism businesses to fully leverage the opportunities for growth and prosperity and in order for the industry to move forward, there are still a number of barriers to overcome first—with many of these barriers producing an uneven pace of recovery for tourism sectors and regions across the province. Addressing these immediate and systemic economic, labour, infrastructure, and sustainability barriers will help ensure that tourism businesses fully recover from the effects of the past two years and can be in a position to cultivate economic growth over the long-term.  

    As such, we called for:  

    • Debt relief measures
    • Tax and financial incentives to support the return of meetings, conventions, events, and live entertainment
    • A Tourism Workforce Strategy with measures to promote tourism as a career, immigration reform to attract and retain talent of all skill levels, investments in future talent, and ensuring workforce decision-making is data-driven, locally-, and regionally-specific   
    • Investing in bus and passenger rail links to connect rural destinations
    • Mandates to ensure the building of more affordable housing purchases, including purpose-built rentals
    • Climate change prevention and mitigation supports for resource-based tourism operators  
    • Permanent personal income tax credits to incentivize domestic travel over the long-term
    • Strategies to ensure future seamless inbound travel for US visitors  

    To read our full list of recommendations, click here for our submission and here to read TIAC’s submission.

    Over the past two weeks, we’ve also made a number of media appearances discussing the Ontario Staycation Tax Credit, ArriveCAN issues, what’s behind the delays at Toronto Pearson airport, and the impact of travel barriers on visitors.  

    As always, thank you for your continued support. And of course, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send me an email at jng@tiaontario.ca.




    Dr. Jessica Ng, PhD

    Director, Policy & Government Affairs

     

  • 28 Jul 2022 by Jessica Ng

    Over the past few weeks, we’ve been working hard in preparation for the 2022 conference of the Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO), where we will be meeting with cabinet ministers and their teams to discuss pressing issues impacting the rebuild of the tourism industry. Joining us will be our tourism delegation, consisting of: Destination Northern Ontario, Indigenous Tourism Ontario, OTEC, Boating Ontario, OMCA, Camping in Ontario, Smart Serve, RTO9, Kingston Accommodation Partners, and Blue Mountain Village Association.  

    Key AMO asks include: debt relief and action on commercial insurance, implementing a tourism workforce strategy, new tax incentives and partnerships to spur tourism growth, creating regional and localized solutions to the affordable housing crisis, continued transportation and infrastructure upgrades, climate change prevention and recovery supports, and long-term strategic investments to support the rebuild, growth, and resilience of our industry across tourism sectors and regions.  

    We are still scheduling meetings, but we have confirmed meetings so far with: Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport; Ministry of Northern Development; Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry; Ministry of Indigenous Affairs; Ministry of Transportation; Ministry of Francophone Affairs; Ministry of Colleges and Universities; Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks; Ministry of the Attorney General; Ministry of Infrastructure; Ministry of Energy; Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility; and the Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery.  

    We also have a meeting scheduled with Mayor Cam Guthrie, chair of the Ontario Big City Mayors (OBCM). The OBCM is comprised of mayors of Ontario cities with populations of 100,000 or more – collectively representing 70% of Ontario’s population. The key agenda items for discussion: the impact of rising visible homeless and vulnerable populations in Ontario cities, their impact on the safety of frontline tourism and hospitality workers, what Ontario’s big cities are doing to address the situation, and how TIAO can help advocate for the types of resources municipalities need to address a multi-pronged challenge.

    AMO 2022 takes place August 14 – 17 in Ottawa. The countdown has begun.  

    This week, we also made a number of TV and media appearances discussing the Ontario Staycation Tax Credit. We also talked about what’s behind the delays at Toronto Pearson airport—emphasizing the impact of the labour crisis and legacy public health measures such as ArriveCAN slowing down processing times—how they’re impacting the capacity of tourism businesses to reach current and future visitors, and what needs to happen to address the situation.  

    As always, thank you for your continued support. And of course, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send me an email at jng@tiaontario.ca.

     




    Jessica Ng

    Director, Policy & Government Affairs

     

  • 14 Jul 2022 by Jessica Ng

    It’s been another busy week at TIAO, with movement and traction on some key files to report:

    Yesterday, the province announced that in addition to expanding second booster shot eligibility to Ontarians aged 18 and older, it would extend its distribution of free rapid antigen tests beyond July 31st. Free rapid tests will be available to the general public until December 31, 2022 through existing channels like grocery stores and pharmacies, as well as in workplaces, schools, hospitals, long-term care and retirement homes and other congregate settings.  

    TIAO welcomes this announcement. Over the past many months, TIAO has advocated for the province to expand its supply of free rapid antigen tests and to extend distribution to the general public beyond July 31, raising the issue with ministries at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference and in our pre-budget submission. With testing being a critical component to reducing COVID-19 transmission, reducing worker absenteeism, and keeping our communities and workplaces safe, access to free rapid tests supports the capacity of tourism businesses as they rebuild. TIAO will continue to advocate for expanding general public access to PCR tests.

    In a post-meeting update from TIAO’s Northern Ontario Tourism Roundtable last week, MP Eric Melillo (Shadow Minister for FedNor and MP for Kenora) urged Canada’s Minister of Public Safety to immediately end all remaining border restrictions in order to support the tourism industry. In his letter to Minister Mendicino, MP Melillo referenced the challenges tourism operators spoke to at the roundtable in relation to random testing, the vaccine mandate, and the ArriveCAN app. MP Melillo reiterated the message put forward by NOTO, Destination Northern Ontario, and our operators: the remaining border restrictions are curtailing visitation in Northern Ontario at a precarious time and may have lasting economic impact. We thank MP Melillo and look forward to continued collaboration on removing all travel restrictions and rebuilding Northern tourism economies.  

    With the uneven pace of economic recovery and rebuilding—especially for Northern regions and the rubber tire tourism market—debt relief is more important than ever before. TIAO continues to fight for debt relief for the tourism industry through all possible avenues. However, we’ve been made aware of some worrying practices being demonstrated by some banks in relation to ongoing financing with tourism businesses who continue to suffer from reduced revenues and increasing costs. In partnership with our colleagues at the Ontario Motor Coach Association, we launched a short survey to determine the nature of these practices and their extent, as well as to capture the true economic state of the tourism industry.  

    Our initial findings show that as of July, year-to-date debt accumulation for 2022 is already 10 percentage points higher than year-end debt levels for 2019. And while more than half of respondents had some type of loan relief during COVID-19—whether in the form of interest-only payments, loan extensions, or payment freezes—69% of respondents reported that their primary lender is no longer continuing to provide these same options. In fact, for the overwhelming majority of respondents, their primary lender: is currently requesting full principal and interest payments (77%); is requesting additional personal collateral to refinance their business (85%); and/or is requesting that they refinance their business (94%).  

    With two-thirds of respondents estimating that they are at least 2 years away from being profitable again, there is an immediate need for continued debt relief to support the economic viability of tourism businesses across our industry. With our partners, we are continuing to advocate for debt relief, especially for CEBA and RRRF loans—which we recently spoke about with our Conservative colleagues at the Northern Ontario Tourism Roundtable. Stay tuned for updates on our progress with this file.  

    Thank you for your continued support. And of course, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send me an email at jng@tiaontario.ca
     



     

    Jessica Ng
    Director, Policy & Government Affairs

     

  • This week, I joined my colleague Carol Greenwood in Chicago at the Great Lakes Economic Forum held by the Council of the Great Lakes Region. It was an opportunity to further entrench our relationships with our neighbours and share ideas about economic development and sustainability. We heard from Chicago Mayor, Lori Lightfoot, about the importance of tourism to the region and from business leaders about their perspectives on how to respond to our labour crisis and where the opportunities for growth through collaboration were emerging. The Great Lakes region is an economic powerhouse, contributing towards $6 trillion in GDP and supporting fifty million jobs in Canada and the United States. TIAO will continue to work with CGLR to ensure that the tourism industry in Ontario can benefit from shared economic development.  

    However, whilst we were discussing further forms of collaboration and sharing best practice, devastating news was simultaneously released that the federal government intends to extend current border restrictions to September 30. Despite our G7 counterparts lifting their final health restrictions and obstacles to travel, the Canadian federal government has decided to go in a direction that will severely restrict our industry's ability to maximize the summer season and ultimately recover. 

    Only last week TIAO joined our colleagues from NOTO and Destination Northern Ontario to highlight the critical situation in Northern Ontario and our border towns as we called on the government to axe remaining obstacles to travel. These obstacles have led to over a $100 million in cancellations in Northern Ontario alone and despite this month’s increase in U.S. residents taking trips into Canada through land ports, the number of trips remains at half (50.8%) of the U.S. residents who arrived by automobile during the same month in 2019. We just can’t go on like this. However, the fight continues and next week TIAO is holding a meeting with Conservative Federal Tourism Critic, Michelle Ferreri MP, to discuss the situation in Northern Ontario and call for greater scrutiny on border decision making. 

    Last Friday we welcomed a new Minister to the newly renamed Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport in Minister Neil Lumsden. Since then, Sheref Sabawy was reappointed as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport and Laura Smith MPP has also been appointed as a Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister. Finally, we also have a new Deputy Minister in place as Nina Chiarelli takes over from Sarah Harrison. TIAO welcomes MPP Smith and Deputy Minister Chiarelli to their new roles and looks forward to working together for the benefit of the tourism industry. 

    Tomorrow is Canada Day and the TIAO office will be closed and reopening on Monday. However you spend the long weekend, I hope you are able to enjoy it with loved ones. 

     

     

     



    Chris Bloore
    President & CEO         
         

  • Across the globe, international governments are lifting restrictions on unvaccinated travellers and removing final obstacles to travel.  

    Yet in Canada, despite recent announcements on temporary changes to border procedures at our airports, there is no plan in place to allow unvaccinated travellers to visit Canada.  

    In addition, the ArriveCAN application, originally implemented as part of an emergency order under the Quarantine Act for public health, continues to prove a barrier to travel.  

    In a recent House of Commons Committee meeting, MPs heard of the damaging impact that COVID-19 has had on our border towns and tourism industry from TIAC President and CEO Beth Potter, but also, Mark Weber, national president of the Customs and Immigration Union, who said the app has CBSA officers acting as "IT consultants" for travellers and is “an incredible drain on resources. It's a drain on time.” 

    But while European and other international governments are dropping mandates, remaining restrictions in Canada are severely restricting the industry's ability to recover. Despite this month’s increase in U.S. residents taking trips into Canada through land ports, the number of trips remains at half (50.8%) of the U.S. residents who arrived by automobile during the same month in 2019. This is simply untenable for the resource-based tourism industry in Northern Ontario, our border towns and is having a major impact on the number of tourists throughout Ontario.  

    At the same time when inflation and gas prices are soaring, businesses across Ontario are facing a perfect storm of conditions that could see some businesses decide to close for the season. A recent report by Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario (NOTO) demonstrated that already this season, over $100 million has been lost in cancellations as American tourists cancel their plans to visit Ontario.  

    As a member of the Northern Ontario Border Working Group, TIAO joined NOTO, Destination Northern Ontario and frontline operators joined for a press conference to call on the government to end the following remaining border requirements: 1. Random testing at land border crossings. 2. Vaccination of international tourists. 3. Use of ArriveCAN. 

    The economic legacies of the pandemic, most notably debt, will continue to act as a millstone around the recovery of the tourism industry and TIAO will continue to work with TIAC to push for the writing off of debt incurred during the pandemic. But, the continued inability of our industry to compete on a level playing field with our international competitors continues to make it impossible for our industry to recover. It’s time for Canada to join other leading countries the G7 in adapting our response to the pandemic and remove vaccine mandates, random testing and the need to use ArriveCAN. 

    You can watch the entire press conference, including remarks from NOTO’s Executive Director Laurie Marcil, David MacLachlan, Executive Director of Destination Northern Ontario, frontline operators and myself by clicking here or watch CTV’s coverage here.  

     

     

     


    Chris Bloore
    President & CEO   
               

  • This week, we saw an important step taken towards normalizing travel:

    Earlier this week, the federal government announced it will drop the vaccine mandate for domestic and outbound travel, federally regulated transportation sectors, and federal government employees. As of June 20, vaccination will no longer be required to board a plane or train in Canada and employers in the federally regulated air, rail, and marine sectors will no longer be required to have mandatory vaccination policies in place for employees.  

    As the pandemic has evolved and new tools have emerged to control the impact of COVID-19, TIAO has been advocating for government to remove barriers to travel. As such, we welcome this move and the opportunities it will provide the tourism industry and broader visitor economy: it will help increase provincial and inter-provincial travel, help address staffing challenges in federally regulated transportation sectors, and help streamline processes at our airports – resulting in a better customer experience.  

    But while we are encouraged by the announcement, TIAO is still concerned about the unanswered questions of when unvaccinated travellers will be able to visit Canada and, crucially, when ArriveCAN will be eliminated or processes simplified and made more accessible for travellers. These are concerns we have been raising on TV and radio appearances this week, as we have been speaking to what the changes will mean for the tourism industry.

    With cross-border land travel between the United States and Canada still at only 50.8% of normal travel volumes, border towns are bearing the brunt of the vaccine mandate for foreign nationals. Reliant on US clientele for upwards of 90% of their business, northern Ontario tourism operators are again seeing cancellations from US visitors due to the vaccine mandate - but also ArriveCAN requirements.  

    The mandatory use of ArriveCAN is creating challenges for inbound foreign nationals, as well as Canadians returning from abroad. With ArriveCAN only allowing submissions up to 72 hours in advance of arriving in Canada, travellers on longer trips and without a smartphone are left with few options if they can't locate a business centre. As a result, seniors in particular have been impacted, with many deterred from travelling altogether. In other cases, it has meant added costs for businesses, with some tour operators resorting to purchasing printers to bring onboard the tour bus in order to print ArriveCAN receipts.   

    And so, while this week’s announcement was an important step for the tourism industry, there is still more that needs to be done. We need to remove the vaccine mandate for all travellers in all directions; and if ArriveCAN isn’t to be eliminated entirely, we need to simplify the processes and remove the 72-hour window to submit the required information, making use of ArriveCAN easier and more accessible for more travellers. TIAO will continue working with federal counterparts to remove these remaining obstacles to travel – only then will the tourism industry and wider visitor economy truly be able to recover.  

    Thank you for your continued support. And of course, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send us an email at cbloore@tiaontario.ca and jng@tiaontario.ca.


     

     

     

     

    Chris Bloore
    President & CEO               


     

     

    Jessica Ng
    Director, Policy & Government Affairs

  • Over the past weeks, TIAO has been working hard to make tourism a key election issue.  

    TIAO has been meeting with candidates of all political parties to talk about why Ontario needs tourism; the state of tourism recovery; the opportunities for jobs, community infrastructure, and economic growth if we get recovery right; and how each party can support the tourism industry as we move beyond the pandemic.  

    To join us in these meetings, we’ve invited TIAO members in each candidate’s riding—including individual businesses, DMOs, and tourism officials—to provide a local perspective of the challenges and opportunities facing local tourism, from Kenora-Rainy River to Sudbury, Oxford County to Niagara Falls, Kitchener-Waterloo to Scarborough-Guildwood, and many more.

    With over 20 meetings and counting and with just a week to go until the election, our job is far from over. We need to keep tourism on the agenda of all candidates vying for office. We encourage you to keep sending letters to your local candidates using our push politics tool on our mini-site, and we encourage you to keep sharing our key messages with the hashtag #OntarioNeedsTourism – see here for our election toolkit.

    Thank you for your continued support. And of course, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send me an email at jng@tiaontario.ca.

     


    Dr. Jessica Ng
    Director of Policy and Government Affairs

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