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  • 03 Aug 2023 by Chris Bloore

    As detailed in last week's newsletter, applicants to the Experience Ontario grant program administered by the Ontario government have started to receive notification of the status of their applications.  

    Unlike the increased financial envelopes during the pandemic period, the total amount of funding available was $19.5 million. TIAO understands that this year there were over 600 applicants with requests for funding totaling nearly three times the available funding. 

    TIAO is currently undertaking a survey in partnership with our colleagues at Festivals and Events Ontario and the Canadian Live Music Association. This survey intends to build a clearer picture of the results of the program and help shape our feedback back to government. So please, even if you were successful in your application, please take the survey here, so we can ensure we can build an accurate picture of the results of the program.  

    As many of you will know already, TIAO has been calling for a return to pre-pandemic timelines for festival and event grant funding. It is imperative that we get back to a system that gives the proper time needed for festivals and event planners to properly budget and plan for their events. TIAO has been assured by the government that this is a priority for them for next year's program and will work collaboratively with them to ensure this is delivered.  

    Thanks to the combined advocacy efforts of TIAO and our industry partners, the Ministry of Transportation has adjusted the timing of lane closures on the Burlington Skyway that was hampering the ability of visitors to travel to the Niagara region. The closures were originally set to start every Friday at 6:30 p.m. with full closures at 8:00 p.m. and now have been moved to 10 p.m. on Fridays to 10 a.m. on Saturdays. This will allow more time for visitors to finish work and travel to Niagara. We thank the Niagara Falls Canada Hotel Association, the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association and our partners at the Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport for their prompt collaboration in implementing an effective alternative solution. This will provide support for visitation during Niagara’s peak season and its first full year of tourism since 2019.  

    The deadline for submissions to the Federal pre-budget consultation period is fast approaching and in cooperation with TIAC, TIAO has put forward our own submission that builds upon national priorities and those recommendations found in TIAO’s ‘State of the Ontario Tourism Industry’ report. If you’re still intending to submit your own recommendations, you can do so by clicking here and the deadline is 23:59 EDT on August 4. 

    Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter and of course please do contact the TIAO team if you have any questions or queries. Don’t forget, tickets are now available for the Ontario Tourism Summit in Mississauga this October, and you can buy your tickets here.   

    Christopher Bloore
    President & CEO, TIAO

  • 27 Jul 2023 by Chris Bloore

    The breaking news yesterday centered around a major reshuffle of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet. In what many political commentators have interpreted as a prelude to a possible general election within the next twelve months, there were several appointments that affected the tourism industry. Among the many changes was the news that Minister Randy Boissonnault would become the new Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages and Soraya Martinez Ferrada would become the new Minister of Tourism.

    Since his elevation to the cabinet in October of 2021, Minister Boissonnault has been a strong champion of the tourism industry and played a critical role in ensuring that the hardest hit sectors, including tourism, received continued economic support as we slowly emerged from the pandemic.

    TIAO thanks Minister Boissonnault for his support of tourism during these most unprecedented and difficult times and we look forward to working with him in his new portfolio to take the steps necessary to create a sustainable workforce for the tourism industry. We are also delighted to welcome Minister Martinez Ferrada to her new role as Minister of Tourism and we look forward to working with her and our national partner TIAC to maximize opportunities for growth for tourism.

    Minister Martinez Ferrada was first elected in 2019 to represent the Hochelaga riding in Quebec, she has previously served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion (Housing), Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, and as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. Minister Martinez Ferrada also served on the City of Montréal’s Executive Committee as the Associate Advisor for Culture and from 2015 to 2018 as a city councillor. She also served as Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

    Minister Martinez Ferrada joins Cabinet at a critical time for the tourism industry as the severity of the debt crisis continues to provoke deep concern. That is why in our introductory letter to our new minister, after offering our congratulations, reaffirmed our calls for action on the spiraling debt crisis that continues to deeply restrict our ability to recover. At the start of the week 250 business leaders and organizations, including TIAO, sent a letter to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland asking for immediate action to alleviate concerns. You can read that letter here and coverage of the coalition of businesses including TIAO, TIAC, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Home Builders’ Association and Restaurants Canada amongst others here.

    Finally, we’re pleased to hear that applicants to the Experience Ontario 2023 program for festivals and events have started to receive confirmation from the provincial government on whether their applications have been successful. Of course while pleased that this program is being rolled out, TIAO is committed to returning the timescale for these grants back to their pre-pandemic timeline. It is vital that we give organizers the most time to plan, schedule and deliver successful events. We look forward to working with government officials to make this a reality in 2024.

    Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter and of course please do contact the TIAO team if you have any questions or queries. Don’t forget, tickets are now available for the Ontario Tourism Summit in Mississauga this October, and you can buy your tickets here.

    Christopher Bloore
    President & CEO, TIAO

  • 20 Jul 2023 by Chris Bloore

    Last week's advocacy update focused on the findings of a Nanos research report commissioned by TIAC and provincial tourism associations including TIAO into the impact of debt on tourism businesses. The report, which TIAO members graciously took part in demonstrated the severe and widespread problems that debt is posing to our industry. So much so that 45% of tourism businesses are at risk of closure due to debt levels.

    TIAO has used this data to write to all of Ontario’s 121 Federal Members of Parliament to urge them to alleviate the debt crisis that continues to hamper the full recovery of the tourism industry. You can read the letter we’ve sent to every MP, here, and we would urge all TIAO members, with strong links to their local MP, to urge him or her to raise this critical issue with Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.  TIAO also continues to work with national business and sector associations to bring together national coalitions of support behind our call for action, and we are determined to win further concessions to support our members.

    TIAO has joined a new coalition of organizations calling for Ontario to undertake a new property tax reassessment and return to a regular assessment cycle in line with other provincial governments. The coalition includes the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), BOMA Toronto, Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), Canadian Property Tax Association (CPTA), NAIOP Greater Toronto, Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA), Toronto Financial District BIA and REALPAC have written to Premier Ford calling on him to take action and provide certainty for businesses and investors. You can read that letter by clicking here.

    On Friday July 21st, TIAO will join TIAC in a meeting with ISED officials to discuss recent funding announcements from the federal budget. Many TIAO members have enquired with us about how monies distributed to regional development agencies and Destination Canada will be used, and we’re hopeful that this meeting will supply some guidance on this. We have also collected as much feedback as possible from members on the delivery of earlier federal programs, so that we can learn lessons to help federal officials ensure future programs are as efficient and as effective as possible.

    In an update to last week's report on the negative impacts caused by the weekly closure of the Burlington Skyway Bridge for maintenance: We’re pleased that that the provincial government moved to cancel last weeks scheduled repairs and discussions are still underway with MTO to find an alternate solution that enables essential repairs to be undertaken but also doesn’t detrimentally affect tourism businesses.

    Preparations for TIAO’s tourism delegation to the Assocation of Municipalities of Ontario Conference (AMO) are well underway and we’ve already secured several meetings with Ministers, economic development officers and locally elected officials who are attending the conference in London. If you’re planning to attend AMO, please do come and visit the TIAO booth on the trade floor to learn more about our key advocacy goals and our work with municipalities.

    We're excited to announce TIAO's newest team member, Alexander Miceli! As the Manager of Policy and Government Affairs, Alexander holds valuable government and stakeholder relations skills, along with his extensive background in knowledge management and advanced research methods. Previously, he was the Stakeholder Relations Advisor at the Associate Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions and got his start in politics as a researcher in the Ontario Legislative Assembly. With both a Master of Information and an Honours B.A. in Political Science from the University of Toronto, Alexander brings a strong passion for political advocacy and research to his role.

    Finally, thank you to those members that have already signed up for Tourism Day at Queen’s Park. Exclusive to TIAO Members, Tourism Day at Queen’s Park, happening on Tuesday, September 26th (8-5PM), is TIAO’s annual lobby day event at the provincial legislature. One of the association’s most highly rated events and membership benefits, TD@QP allows tourism industry leaders and stakeholders valuable face time with MPPs, Ministers and other government officials and staff.  Read more and register below.

    As ever, this is only a snapshot of the work that the TIAO team is currently undertaking, and we appreciate your feedback and input on ongoing and new challenges or issues of concern. If you would like to speak to a member of the TIAO team or know more about some of the issues we’ve referred to in this newsletter, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

    Chris Bloore
    President & CEO, TIAO