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  • 22 Jun 2023 by Madison Simmons

    This week, TIAO President and CEO, Chris Bloore, met with the Honourable Neil Lumsden, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport on the issue of debt load. The Minister has been an advocate on this topic, supporting TIAO’s calls for debt relief for the industry. We thank the Minister for his continued support as we look to alleviate the burdensome debt loads on Ontario tourism businesses and allow them to benefit from rising visitor demand and return to a sense of normalcy in operations. 

    Earlier this week, with the support of TIAO and other members of the Provincial and Territorial Tourism Industry Association (PTTIA), the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) released new survey research showing that 45% of Canada's tourism businesses may close within the next three years without government intervention into their mounting debt load.   

    Conducted by Nanos Research, the survey found that 55% of tourism sector businesses are not confident that they will have the ability to repay the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF), and the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) loans in the next two years. 51% of tourism businesses reported having over $100,000 in outstanding debt from loans, lines of credit, or other credit facilities, with almost one-third (29.7%) of all operators reporting more than $250,000 in outstanding debt.   

    Based on these findings, TIAC, TIAO (as a member of the PTTIA), and the PTTIA are calling on the federal government to help address this important issue by:   

    • Extending the zero-interest repayment deadline for the CEBA loan to December 31, 2025;   
    • Increasing the forgivable portion of the CEBA loan to $30,000 (or 50%) if fully repaid before December 31, 2024, and maintaining the current forgivable portion of $20,000 (or 33.3%) if fully repaid by December 31, 2025; and,  
    • Modifying the RRRF and HASCAP loans in a similar fashion to allow more time and flexibility in repayment terms.  

    TIAO has been advocating for debt relief for tourism businesses for the past 22 months. Through our meetings with provincial partners, we were able to successfully advocate for the extension of the zero-interest repayment deadline for CEBA and RRRF loans (from December 31, 2022 to December 31, 2023), allowing more businesses to qualify for partial loan forgiveness. But given the slow pace of tourism recovery, this was not enough.  

    Alongside TIAC, the PTTIA, and our industry partners, TIAO will continue to advocate for debt relief to ensure the recovery, growth, and sustainability of Ontario's tourism industry. 

    Last week, TIAO also met with the Honourable Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. Another champion for the tourism industry, the Minister was interested in an update on what the summer is forecasted to look like for tourism businesses. The discussion also covered future portable benefits legislation and how TIAO was working with employers to create a sustainable tourism workforce.

    Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or comments!  


    Madison Simmons 
    Vice President, Public Affairs 

  • 15 Jun 2023 by Jessica Ng

    This week has been another busy one, with the TIAO team on the road.  

    We held our Annual General Meeting yesterday in historic Kingston, returning to in-person format for the first time since 2019. It was great to see some of our TIAO members in person to recap TIAO’s 2022 advocacy, programming, and events; hear member input; and give outgoing Board Chair Andrew Weir a proper send-off. Four new members were elected to TIAO’s Board of Directors, to begin serving immediately: Claudia Dessanti, Ontario Chamber of Commerce; Michael Crockatt, Ottawa Tourism; Neil Pakey, Nieuport Aviation; and Paul Di Ianni, Town of Lincoln.

    Rebecca Mackenzie, President and CEO of the Culinary Tourism Alliance becomes the new Chair of the organization, and Michael Crockatt will assume role of Vice Chair. The TIAO Board is made up of 14 individuals, each bringing a unique perspective and skillset to the table to advance TIAO’s priorities on behalf of its members and Ontario’s tourism economy.  Read TIAO’s 2022 Annual Report here.

    Our AGM was purposefully held prior to the reception of the CGLCC Business Summit 2023, also taking place at the Holiday Inn Kingston-Waterfront. This allowed TIAO members attending our AGM to also attend the reception for the CGLCC’s (Canada’s 2SLGBTQI+ Chamber of Commerce) Summit—and perhaps also register to attend some of the subsequent conference sessions to learn more about building and supporting an inclusive labour force, advancing supplier diversity, and the next steps for your business after being Rainbow Registered.  

    TIAO is proud to work alongside the CGLCC to help build the most inclusive tourism industry possible. But more so, we stand as an ally in deeds, not just words against bigotry and hate. 

    To cap off a busy week, Chris Bloore also spoke at the Tourism Oxford Awards in Woodstock and at Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, highlighting the need for tourism debt relief and TIAO’s continued advocacy with TIAC to extend the upcoming repayment deadline for CEBA and RRRF loans. Congratulations to Meredith Maywood from Tourism Oxford and the other award winners  

    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 

  • 08 Jun 2023 by Madison Simmons

    Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, 7 in 10 tourism operators in Ontario reported taking on debt to remain afloat, with 20% accruing over $100,000 in debt. In Northern Ontario, the situation is magnified, with resource-based tourism operators reporting an average debt load of over $185,000. CEBA, RRRF, and HASCAP loans have been critical to the survival of tourism operators. But as we have heard from operators, repaying these loans on the current schedule may further extend an already slow recovery time for tourism businesses dealing with critical labour gaps, the slow return of key markets, supply chain disruptions, and rising commercial costs.  

    Debt relief has been a key priority for TIAO throughout our advocacy for pandemic recovery. Through our meetings with provincial partners, we were able to successfully advocate for the extension of the repayment deadline to qualify for partial loan forgiveness for CEBA and RRRF loans (from December 31, 2022 to December 31, 2023). But at the current pace of recovery, further debt relief is needed.

    Data released by Twenty31 in late May found significant enthusiasm for travelling in Ontario in the near future. Tourism in Ontario looks set to continue growing as travellers reassess their holiday plans in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis, according to a new survey of leisure travellers across the wider region. Continued support is needed to allow tourism businesses to focus on this opportunity, as opposed to concentrating on looming debt deadlines.

    The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) issued a release this week with new data showing that a quarter million businesses are at risk of closure as CEBA repayment deadline approaches.

    The report released by CFIB entitled Back in Business? Spring Update on Small Business and CEBA also includes the following key results:

    • Of the nine in ten small businesses who used CEBA, three quarters accessed loans between $40,001 and $60,000, while one quarter received loans of up to $40,000.
    • Only 10% of CEBA users have repaid their loans.
    • A total of 43% of CEBA users risk missing the current repayment deadline by end of 2023. Small businesses in the arts, recreation, and information (62%), hospitality (61%) and social services sectors (46%) are most likely to miss the current CEBA deadline.
    • The smallest businesses with 0-4 employees are the most likely to miss the repayment deadline (49%)
    • Even among the 47% of small business owners who indicate they will meet the 2023 deadline, half say they will struggle to do so, and two-thirds would like to see an extension of the repayment deadline.

    To support our asks, we need to have up-to-date, substantive data that shows the extent of the debt load among tourism operators. That’s why as part of the Provincial Territorial Tourism Industry Association of Canada (PTTIA), we launched, with the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) and Nanos Research, a survey project to gather critical information about the debt load of tourism operators across Canada and their current capacity to repay CEBA, RRRF, and HASCAP loans. Thank you to all of our members who took part in this critical survey. We will be working with our partners to release this information in the near future, and will continue to prioritize this issue in our advocacy efforts.


    Madison Simmons
    Vice President, Public Affairs