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  • 21 Sep 2023 by Chris Bloore

    Last week the Federal government announced some changes to the timelines of the repayment of CEBA loans. If you missed the announcement, then see TIAO's write up here and come back to this report in a moment! 

    Caught up? Let’s get back into it. 

    So, let's set the scene, since March 2020 we’ve had lockdowns, closed borders and severe restrictions on operations.

    As we’ve navigated ourselves out of a global health pandemic, the same businesses that have been so severely affected now face a perfect storm of high inflation and interest rates, costly disruptions to the supply chain, rising fuel prices, an acute labour crisis and a cost-of-living crisis that is affecting the consumer sentiment of domestic and international travellers.

    With all that to consider, loans from the government through the CEBA program are now set for repayment if you want to secure the forgivable part of your loan.  

    We know that many TIAO members are struggling to meet the repayment deadlines to ensure they receive up to $20,000 in loan relief. We know thanks to a study commissioned into the debt being carried by tourism businesses by TIAC, TIAO and our provincial counterparts and because of the conversations we’ve had with our members since last week’s announcement. 

    Whilst of course we’re pleased that we’ve helped to secure another extension to the final repayment date of the loans, and we thank the government for this, we’re disappointed that the time frame around the forgivable part of the loan has not been meaningfully extended.  Simply put, the catalogue of economic pressures on businesses has not gone away and in many cases is increasing

    TIAO will continue to work alongside our provincial association colleagues and TIAC to continue to reemphasize the real ongoing challenges faced by our members with debt and many other files. One of those opportunities will happen next week as we complete our preparations for ‘Tourism Day at Queen’s Park’. 

    Our annual lobby day has been supplemented in recent years by our delegation to ROMA and AMO conferences. However, ‘Tourism Day at Queen’s Park’ is still the most significant opportunity for us to speak directly with MPPs from all parties, in and out of government and those with significant tourism activity within their riding.  We will lead a delegation of over forty members to meet with elected representatives, their staff and civil servants to give them a clear picture of the challenges that our members face daily and how working cross party and with Federal government colleagues we can help alleviate these pressures. 

    I would like to thank those members that will join us next week for giving up their time to advocate on behalf of the tourism industry and recognize the many members that registered to join us but are unable to because of capacity limitations. I am hopeful for a productive day of meetings, and we will of course update you with the outcome of the day in next week's newsletter.

    Finally, yesterday was a tough day for many Canadians, as images of protests and counter-protests filled streets across Canada.  TIAO is proud to be rainbow registered and is committed to providing a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for the 2SLGBTQI+ community. We believe the tourism industry is stronger when it is diverse and inclusive, and we stand with the Canada's 2SLGBTQI+ Chamber of Commerce to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of 2SLGBTQI+ community members. Please visit Canada's 2SLGBTQI+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC)for educational resources for your business or organization.

    As ever, this newsletter can only offer a snapshot of the work of the TIAO team. If you have any questions or would like to raise an issue with a member of the team, please don't hesitate to get in contact.

    Chris Bloore
    President & CEO, TIAO

  • 14 Sep 2023 by Jessica Ng

    Over the past couple of years, Canada has seen far fewer Chinese visitors than normal due to pandemic-related restrictions. The Chinese government has been gradually lifting its ban on group travel to international destinations for a number of countries, including the US and UK, allowing Chinese and online travel agencies to book group tours and packages for Chinese visitors. However, Canada continues to be left off this list. 

    TIAO is aware of the local economic impact that this is continuing to have on tourism operators that depend on the Chinese visitor market, which is normally a major contributor to visitor spend in the Ontario and Canadian tourism economy. Chinese visitors tend to stay longer, significantly boosting visitor spending: In 2019, Chinese visitors spent approximately $2 billion in Canada (averaging $2,900 per trip and staying for an average of 44 nights). In 2019, Chinese visitors spent $739 million in Ontario alone.  

    However, since the ban, economic data indicates a 44% decrease in Chinese visitor spending in Ontario in 2022 compared to 2019, with even steeper declines of 73% observed in Ottawa and Countryside. Local attractions heavily dependent on tour group business, such as Yorkdale Mall, have suffered, with group-related retail sales virtually disappearing. Acknowledging and addressing the undeniable economic impact of China’s group travel ban on Canada are critical for our tourism industry and overall economy. TIAO has written to Minister Martinez Ferrada, the new federal Minister of Tourism, about this issue and are actively working with our federal partners. You can view our letter here

    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  


    Dr. Jessica Ng, PhD 
    Director, Policy & Government Affairs 
    Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) 

  • 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