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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.