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  • 24 Aug 2023 by Chris Bloore

    We’re pleased to share our recent strides in advocating for Ontario’s vibrant tourism industry at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Conference this year. AMO is the premier representative group for Ontario’s 444 municipalities that advocates for beneficial policy and legislation to all levels of government. TIAO, alongside our dedicated delegation, recently engaged with key members of the Ontario government to address the vital concerns within our sector. Our delegation consisted of: 

    1. David MacLachlan, Executive Director, Destination Northern Ontario 
    2. Andrew Siegwart, President, Blue Mountain Village Association 
    3. Richard Anderson, Executive Director, Smart Serve Ontario 
    4. Kerri King, Executive Director, Resorts of Ontario 
    5. Krista LeClair, Executive Director, Kingson Accommodation Partners 
    6. Rick Layzell, CEO, Boating Ontario 
    7. Adam Morrison, President and CEO, Ontario Tourism Education Corporation 
    8. Sherry Mayer, VP of Operations, Indigenous Tourism Ontario 
    9. Rebecca Cabral, Public Affairs Manager, Camping in Ontario 

    Our appreciation goes out to Ministers Neil Lumsden, Graydon Smith, David Piccini, Caroline Mulroney, Greg Rickford, Attorney General Doug Downey and Parliamentary Assistants Trevor Jones, Rob Flack, and Todd McCarthy. These discussions allowed us to openly tackle the urgent needs and challenges with which the tourism industry is currently grappling.

    We extended our conversations to include members from the Ontario Liberal and NDP caucuses, along with MPP Mike Schreiner, leader of the Green Party of Ontario. We’d also like to express our gratitude to the mayors and councillors who took the time to visit our booth and discuss the outlined issues below. This collaborative support ensures that the concerns of the tourism industry remain in the spotlight during policy deliberations. 

    Key Takeaways from the Conversations: 

    • Nature Tourism: Increasing the appeal of Ontario’s natural tourism was a core focus in our discussions. The value of afforestation and expanding greenspaces took prominence, alongside the need to build climate resilience and nurture partnerships between tourism operators and Ontario Parks. 
    • Housing: We delved into the critical issue of housing, a crucial factor exacerbating the labour shortages within our industry. The focus was on attainable housing solutions, urging government investment in affordable options to create a balanced living-work environment. 
    • Addressing the Labour Crisis: The pressing issue of labour shortages within the industry got significant attention, compelling us to explore practical solutions to attract and retain a skilled workforce. 
    • Indigenous Tourism: These discussions focussed on the great contribution of Indigenous tourism to Ontario’s economy. We discussed promoting and investing in this vital sector, enhancing its role within the broader tourism landscape. 
    • Unlocking Rural Potential: Acknowledging the unique challenges faced by rural and remote tourism operators, we championed the need for robust transportation infrastructure. This includes expanding local air connections and establishing enhanced rural bus routes to foster seamless community access. 
    • EV File: Addressing the coming 2035 gas-powered vehicle ban, TIAO emphasized the impacts on tourism operators. While supporting eco-friendly initiatives, we stressed the need for a comprehensive grid expansion covering rural areas combined with an efficient EV charging network.  

    These dialogues demonstrate TIAO’s dedication to real, practical solutions that help the tourism industry in Ontario grow steadily. We’re dedicated to supporting your needs and guiding the industry towards a successful future. 

    Chris Bloore
    President & CEO, TIAO

  • 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