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  • 16 Mar 2023 by Jessica Ng

    Next week, on March 23, the provincial government is set to introduce its 2023 budget. We’re grateful to our partners for supporting the tourism industry’s short-term and long-term goals in their pre-budget submissions and over the past many months. A quick note of thanks to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce for amplifying our advocacy of key tourism asks—you can read their pre-budget submission here.

    The following week, on March 28, the federal government will release its 2023 budget. As the federal government is looking to finalize their priorities for the 2023 fiscal year, our advocacy to remove red tape for tourism businesses continues. In support of Beer Canada’s campaign and our partners at the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association (ORHMA) and Restaurants Canada, we sent a letter to Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland, calling on the federal government to freeze the federal excise tax on beer, wine, and spirits. The federal excise tax on beverage alcohol is set to automatically increase by 6.3% on April 1st. This will impact not only Ontario’s breweries, wineries, cideries, and distilleries, but the tourism and hospitality operators who sell beverage alcohol as part of the visitor experience.

    The increase to the federal excise tax will come at a time when tourism and hospitality businesses are still slow to recover and dealing with rising operating costs, supply chain issues, and recruitment and retention challenges. For producers and vendors of beverage alcohol, a record increase in the federal excise tax will only exacerbate current challenges by reducing revenue, reducing cash flow, and creating costs that operators will not be able to fully absorb. If passed onto consumers, the rising prices of affected tourism products and experiences may dampen visitor demand, creating yet another blow for hard-hit businesses.

    In our letter to Minister Freeland, we echoed the recommendation put forward by Beer Canada to freeze the federal excise tax on beer, wine, and spirits for fiscal years 2023 and 2024 until inflation returns to the Bank of Canada’s 1% to 3% target range. You can read our letter here.

    Meanwhile, we will continue to work with our partners on other regulatory and policy measures that support the growth and competitiveness of Ontario-owned brick and mortar craft breweries, wineries, cideries, and distilleries, which attract millions of visitors per year and contribute directly to tourism revenue.

    This week, we also sent a letter to the federal government regarding the Canada Summer Jobs program. We’ve heard from stakeholders about the need to better leverage this program to not only support operators during peak commercial periods, but as a means to promote tourism career awareness, build transferable skills, and attract young workers to our industry. To support our future pipeline of talent and help train Ontario’s future workforce, we called for tourism and hospitality sectors to be given a higher quota of Canada Summer Jobs positions, particularly in regions where these jobs are in high demand. You can read our letter here.

    Finally, we’re aware of local bylaw issues that have created more red tape for some campground operators, impacting their capacity to renovate and expand while deterring new operators from entering the local campground market. We are working with our colleagues at Camping in Ontario to address this issue and reach a solution that will support the capacity of local campgrounds to continue offering innovative and competitive visitor experiences.

    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


    Jessica Ng
    Director, Policy & Government Affairs


  • TIAO was thrilled to attend the Feast On the Farm Industry Day in Niagara Benchlands. Dr. Jessica Ng, Director of Policy and Government Affairs, and Caitlyn Drexler, Senior Policy Analyst, presented findings from the 2022 State of the Ontario Tourism Industry Report, highlighting red tape facing local operators, the need for a tourism workforce strategy, and opportunities to grow agritourism in Niagara Benchlands. TIAO thanks the Town of Lincoln, Niagara Benchlands, the Culinary Tourism Alliance, Fieldstone at Bench, and Bench Brewing Company for a wonderful (and delicious) event!

  • TIAO attended the Southern Ontario Conference, hosted by Ontario’s Southwest (OSW) and Hamilton Halton Brant Regional Tourism Association (HHBRTA), in Hamilton. This was an excellent two and half days of insightful and energizing content from great keynote speakers and innovative thought leaders and operators. TIAO's State of the Ontario Tourism Industry Report was highlighted on stage as a key document in building a framework for growth and TIAO was delighted with the overwhelming positive response to the report by stakeholders. 

    TIAO’s President and CEO, Christopher Bloore, was fortunate enough to be asked to host the award ceremony and help to shine a spotlight on some of the innovation and ingenuity on display throughout Southern Ontario's tourism industry. Congratulations to Executive Director’s Joanne Wolnik (Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation) and Maria Fortunato (Hamilton Halton Brant Regional Tourism Association) for bringing us together for such an impactful agenda and for your leadership over the past twelve months (and much longer) in Ontario's tourism industry. 

  • 23 Feb 2023 by Sapphire Supersad

    Originally announced at OTS21, under the title “Game On B.C”, the Advancing Sustainable Tourism in Ontario project has the goal of making Ontario the most sustainable province in Canada. Through TIAOs partnership with GreenStep Solutions, this project intends to progress sustainability across the province and provide support along the way, guiding tourism organizations and destinations on their regenerative and sustainable tourism journey.   

    The term “sustainability” often suggests the images of the environment and climate change, remaining within a narrow scope of issues and solutions, versus what sustainability truly means and its significance beyond these areas. Sustainability, while highly involved and important to environmental issues, extends into social and economic concerns businesses and destinations may be facing. Advancing Sustainable Tourism in Ontario looks at sustainability holistically, incorporating it into management, social, economic and cultural aspects for a business or destination.  

    Having a personal interest in learning the correlation and interconnectivity of social, economic and environmental dimensions, as well as an eagerness to support destination and community development, this project encapsulates why I was thrilled to join TIAO and where I see my ideal career in the tourism industry; championing the advancement of businesses and destinations within their own organization or region and beyond.  

    Advancing Sustainable Tourism in Ontario supports the enhancement of businesses and destinations with a step-by-step process of assessing their strengths and areas for improvement, setting clear goals and actions, tracking their progress, certifying their achievements, and striving for continuous improvement. This project complements the work organizations and destinations have already done, acknowledging their efforts and pleasantly surprising them that they may have done more in the realm of sustainability than they initially thought.  

    Having the incredible opportunity to attend the IMPACT Sustainability Travel & Tourism Conference in Victoria, B.C, I have continued to witness that every business and destination is at a unique point in their sustainability journey – some are leading examples, while others don’t know where to begin and are looking for guidance. No matter where a business or destination is on its path to sustainable tourism, there are always opportunities to learn more and progress. Together with the sustainable tourism experts at GreenStep, I am looking forward to supporting and encouraging their efforts toward a regenerative and sustainable future.  

  • 16 Feb 2023 by Jessica Ng

    With spring just around the corner, the provincial and federal governments are in the process of writing their 2023 budgets, set to be released in the coming weeks and months. But while other sectors have moved forward along with the rest of Ontario and Canada, tourism’s recovery remains slow and uneven. Tourism businesses are still dealing with the lasting impacts of unprecedented revenue losses, six-figure debts, and the displacement of tourism workers to other industries—along with new challenges like supply chain disruptions, inflation, and rising taxes. Sectors and regions dependent on cross-border visitation are still struggling and according to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, only 16% of businesses are confident in the outlook of Ontario’s economy in 2023.  

    As provincial and federal policymakers are looking to define their economic priorities for the coming fiscal year, it is critical that we keep the pressure on both levels of government to bring the focus back on tourism. That’s why I presented this week at the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs at Queen’s Park: to advocate for the inclusion of tourism investments in the Province’s 2023 budget. This was an important opportunity to remind the provincial government of the slow pace of tourism recovery, the challenges tourism operators are still facing—and, importantly, the opportunities that lie ahead for Ontario’s economy if we get our recovery right.  

    In my presentation (which you can view here) and Q&A, I emphasized the regional disparities in recovery; the labour gaps hindering recovery and growth; the need for destination marketing investments to attract business, cultural, and sporting events back to Ontario; the need for transportation infrastructure that increases regional connectivity; and promising areas for future tourism growth and investment, including agri-tourism, sustainable tourism, and Indigenous tourism.

    We need a tourism growth strategy that enables our industry to fully recover, grow, remain domestically and globally competitive, and become resilient. To that end, I called on the provincial government to consult on and release a comprehensive tourism growth strategy for Ontario by the third quarter of 2023, highlighting our State of the Ontario Tourism Industry Report as a foundation for such a strategy.

    Last week, we made a similar appeal to the federal government in our letter to Prime Minister Trudeau. As part of a wider campaign led by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada and the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses, we called on the Prime Minister, the Minister of Tourism, and the Minister of Finance to ensure that the incoming federal tourism growth strategy is actionable and best positions our industry to rebuild, prosper, and unleash its full potential. We asked TIAO members to join us in our advocacy by sending a pre-written letter to their local MP. If you haven’t already, there’s still time to send your own letter—click here to see how.  

    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



    Jessica Ng
    Director, Policy & Government Affairs




  • 09 Feb 2023 by Jessica Ng

    While economic recovery is underway, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a severe and enduring impact on Ontario’s tourism industry. Border closures, capacity restrictions, and lockdowns exacerbated structural issues that have left the industry far from recovery. Tourism businesses are still recovering from the lasting impact of revenue losses, mounting debt, an acute labour crisis, and new challenges including supply chain disruptions, inflation, and reduced commercial insurance coverage. Moreover, not all visitor markets and regions are rebuilding at the same pace, and business confidence has dropped to a new low: according to the Ontario Economic Report, only 16% of organizations expressed confidence in the outlook of Ontario’s economy in 2023.

    Meanwhile, our global competitors are already moving forward, along with the rest of Ontario and Canada. At this precarious moment in our recovery, we need a national tourism growth strategy that best positions our industry to rebuild, prosper, and unleash its full potential. We can’t be left behind.  That’s why, in collaboration with the Tourism Industry Association of Canada and the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses, we're sending a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau—to bring federal focus back onto the Tourism Growth Strategy and how it should support tourism recovery. 

    To amplify our efforts, we need your help. We’re asking members to send a letter to their local MP in support of our joint campaign, calling on the federal government to ensure that our tourism industry remains one of the most competitive and successful in the world.


    Jessica Ng
    Director, Policy & Government Affairs

    We need your support! Join us in advocating for the future success of the tourism industry by sending a letter to your MP. TIAO has made it easy to send your pre-written letter to your Member of Parliament. Read below to see how!

    How do I send a letter to my MP? 3 Easy Steps

    Step One: Find out the contact information of your MP – go to the Current Members of the Parliament List. To find your MP, enter your postal code. You can also call 1-800-677-8683, TTY: 1-888-292-2312. You can also see the list of Ontario MPs' contact information on TIAO's website.

    Step Two:

    1. Click here to download TIAO's pre-written member letter to your MP. Read through, and make sure to fill out the highlighted sections;
      • Name of your MP
      • Date of the letter
      • Your name
      • Your company logo (if applicable)
    2. You're ready to email your letter to your MP! Click here to use our pre-written email to make it easier to send your letter. Make sure to double check your MP's email address before emailing!

    Step Three: You did it! Pat yourself on the back because you just helped support the future of the tourism industry in Ontario.







  • 02 Feb 2023 by Jessica Ng

    This week, the TIAO team was at the Ontario Tourism Town Hall, an industry-wide event delivered by our colleagues at TIAC. This was a great opportunity to share ideas on innovation and sustainability, hear about TIAC’s latest advocacy initiatives, discuss national and regional tourism issues, and reconnect with tourism colleagues.  

    We heard from Indigenous Tourism Ontario and the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada about best practices, recent developments in, and the recovery of Indigenous tourism. We got an inside look at Ottawa Tourism’s destination stewardship and marketing strategies; a sneak peak at emerging digital tools for SME business and product development; Tourism HR Canada’s pan-Canadian programs to address recruitment, retention, and skills gap challenges; recovery projections and strategic planning shifts at Destination Canada; and a snapshot of TIAC’s federal tourism growth strategy targets, including in tourism spending, workforce, visitation, and building a regenerative and inclusive tourism industry.

    And in the Q&A portion, TIAC, ITAC, and Destination Canada engaged in a lively exchange of ideas with Ontario tourism leaders and stakeholders. Guided by live questions, the panel discussed tourism’s resilience projections for 2023, the appeal of tourism and hospitality careers for young jobseekers, government funding models for workforce training programs, and commercial insurance.

    Presentations from the Ontario Tourism Town Hall will be available to view on TIAC’s website, so 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


    Jessica Ng
    Director, Policy & Government Affairs


  • 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.