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  • 26 Oct 2023 by Chris Bloore

    The pack-up is well underway this morning at the Hilton Toronto Airport as we reflect on two content-rich days and a wonderful evening celebrating the achievements of our industry at the Ontario Tourism Awards of Excellence. As we reflected on the progress of the past twelve months, a phenomenal 561 delegates joined us and our host, Tourism Mississauga, and we look forward to the future with optimism and confidence. We firmly banished the memory of our virtual only summit from a socially distanced studio in Mississauga three years ago. 

    The lineup of speakers this year helped to address the state of the tourism sector in Ontario on Day One, discussing the challenges and obstacles to growth and then looking to the future and new opportunities on Day Two. 

    I was also delighted that the federal Minister for Tourism: The Honourable Soraya Martinez Ferrada, and Ontario Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport: The Honourable Neil Lumsden, and Leader of the Official Opposition in Ontario: Marit Stiles, were able to address delegates about their vision for the future of tourism. At a time when TIAO is working diligently to put forward pragmatic solutions to the challenges we face, it is critical that we build consensus and support across all political parties across all levels of government. 

    It is impossible to come away from Mississauga without feeling the growing sense of momentum behind Ontario’s Tourism industry. One of the most impactful elements of the summit has always been its unmatched ability to bring people together, to spark collaboration, and inspire. I know from the feedback from delegates with whom I spoke, that the appetite for working together is stronger than ever. Next year we will be celebrating campaigns and programs inspired by the presentations given at the summit, in addition to the meaningful conversations at networking breaks or even the connections made at Club Ontario.

    The Ontario Tourism Summit could only be made possible thanks to the kind support of our sponsors and partners that help make such a compelling event. We are incredibly grateful for your continued support. In the coming days the reordered sessions from the summit that we were able to secure with the permission of their respective presenters, will be made available to watch on our conference app and later our website.

    Finally, I would be remiss not to say how touched I was by the kind comments regarding my departure from TIAO at the end of the year. It really does mean the world to me, and I could never have imagined such a response. 

    Normal service will resume in our newsletter next week as we start the process of engaging with members on TIAO’s Ontario Provincial Budget priorities.


    Christopher Bloore

    President and CEO

    Tourism Industry Association of Ontario 

  • 19 Oct 2023 by Alexander Micelli

    The Ontario government will release its annual Fall Economic Statement on November 2, 2023. Afterward, starting from November 6, Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy, along with his Parliamentary Assistants Stephen Crawford and Rick Byers, will attend a series of in-person townhall meetings in various communities across the province until January 2024. They aim to gather insights and ideas from organizations and businesses for the 2024 Budget. 

    TIAO will be submitting a response for the provincial pre-budget consultation and is eager to hear your input and concerns. We encourage you to share your comments with TIAO, and we will diligently advocate to ensure the government prioritizes the tourism sector’s needs. This is your chance to have a say in the Ministry’s plans for the upcoming year. Send your ideas to Alexander Miceli, Manager of Policy and Government Affairs, at  

    You can also share your thoughts through a guided online survey, a new online submission portal, or by mailing your feedback to the Ministry of Finance. Please access the following link to learn more about how to submit your ideas directly to the Ministry. 


    Alexander Miceli 
    Manager of Policy and Government Affairs
    Tourism Industry Association of Ontario


  • 12 Oct 2023 by Chris Bloore

    In yet another busy week for the TIAO Team, we’ve continued to meet with MPPs to discuss the continuing challenges that businesses in our sector are facing during Tourism Day at Queen’s Park on September 26th. We regret that some MPPs were unable to attend and look forward to future collaboration.  

    In recent days TIAO has met with MPPs Adil Shamji, Jennifer French and Joel Harden to share with them the issue of the increasing costs of operation facing businesses in the current economic climate. In addition, we discussed the continuing significant decline in visitors compared to pre-pandemic levels.  

    During our meeting with MPP Shamji, we emphasized the need for affordable and attainable housing across many regions in Ontario, so the workers in our industry can sustain their employment. We also discussed the viability of tourism as a career option for both our international and domestic students. 

    In another meeting with MPP French, we also had a productive discussion about the growing need for EV infrastructure and expanding the electrical grid in rural Ontario and remote communities. 

    As we draw closer to the Ontario Tourism Summit, we know how important it is to continue to share crucial information with our elected representatives and give them a snapshot of what is happening in their communities across the province. One of those critical issues we highlight is the significant levels of debt still facing tourism businesses, plus the fast-approaching deadlines for repayment to ensure government forgiveness. As many of you already know, whilst the government announcement on extending payment deadlines was welcomed, it did not address the crucial issue of loan forgiveness. 

    As tourism ministers from across Canada come together to meet the new Federal Minister in St. John’s, I am grateful to the Hon. Neil Lumsden, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport in Ontario, for continuing to raise the issue of debt repayment with the Federal Government. Minister Lumsden and his team are using data collected by TIAO and our provincial counterparts in partnership with TIAC to illustrate why businesses need more substantial mitigating steps to be taken. 

    Chris Bloore
    President & CEO
    Tourism Industry Association of Ontario

  • 05 Oct 2023 by Alexander Micelli

    Earlier this week, TIAO participated in the Labour Market Forum in Ottawa, which ran from October 3rd to the 4th. The event, hosted by Philip Mondor, President and CEO of Tourism HR Canada, featured an impactful address and fireside chat with the Hon. Soraya Martinez Ferrada, Minister of Tourism and Minister Responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec. During her speech, the Minister emphasized the vital role that tourism will play in Canada's economy over the next decade and the need for effective policy solutions to support this sector.

    Throughout the forum, we engaged in discussions on several crucial topics. These included addressing mental health challenges in the workplace, particularly within the tourism industry, as well as strategies for nurturing the Indigenous workforce to further enhance the burgeoning Indigenous tourism sector.

    Additionally, we tackled pressing issues such as the housing crisis, labor shortages, and the necessity for immigration reform within the tourism industry. Kate Monk and James Murphy from Explorers Edge shared insights into Co-Creation Labs, while Aaron Binder from Better Way Alliance stressed the importance of increased investment in tourism businesses and operators. This investment aims to facilitate their cost-effective expansion and long-term profitability. The Co-Creation  Labs concept was discussed as a practical tool for engaging stakeholders and developing regenerative programs to assist struggling tourism businesses within rural communities. The forum concluded with a discussion on Canadians' positive perception of the tourism industry, highlighting the significance of maintaining this favorable view through active support for the communities frequented by tourists and addressing their specific needs. In addition, Tourism HR Canada proudly announced its commitment to the 2030 Pledge for Sustainable Tourism, further reinforcing its dedication to fostering responsible and sustainable practices within the tourism.

  • 02 Oct 2023 by Chris Bloore

    This week signalled the return of TIAO’s in person ‘Tourism Day’ at Queen’s Park and our popular ‘Taste of Ontario’ reception held in partnership with the Culinary Tourism Alliance. A welcome return to the Legislature for the first time since 2019.

    On Monday evening we welcomed MPPs and their staff to sample some of the best food and beverages that Ontario has to offer. Each vendor was a member of the ‘Feast On’ program – North America’s largest and longest running local food certification program that recognizes businesses across the food tourism value chain, committed to sourcing Ontario grown food & drink. It was fantastic to bring people together again and give our delegation the opportunity to meet with elected representatives and their staff and to share their experiences. We enjoyed discussing how the challenges facing our industry have evolved since the pandemic in an informal atmosphere.

    The following day, forty delegate representing the tourism industry held more than twenty meetings with government ministers, opposition leaders, and MPPs from all political parties to discuss the current state of the tourism industry in Ontario. As detailed in my column last week, our message was loud and clear: despite the significant progress we have made as an industry to undo the damage caused by the pandemic, tourism businesses 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 both domestic and international travellers.

    Just this week Destination Canada released detailed statistics that show that in July 2023 Canada welcomed 2.8 million monthly visitors – an increase of 34% over July of the previous year, which brought July arrivals up to 82% of pre-pandemic levels. Therefore, not only are businesses facing much higher costs, but they are also still missing one in five visitors from pre-pandemic levels.

    From the issue of debt to the labour crisis, economic development and regulatory reform, to infrastructure and transportation, we continue to put forward common-sense and pragmatic solutions to support the industry.  In the coming days we will both review the feedback from our delegates and examine every opportunity for collaboration with the MPPs with whom we met on Tuesday and those that have arranged meetings for the coming days. 

    The TIAO team would like to thank those elected members and their staff for meeting with us as well as our delegation for their commitment and diligence in their advocacy to support the tourism industry in Ontario.