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.
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.