As the business closures implemented to help contain the spread of COVID-19 extend into 2021, the federal and provincial governments have continued to provide support to small businesses through financial relief. Training opportunities, webinars, and survey results are also made available to business owners from a variety of sources to help build skills, improve online presence, and understand traveller sentiment.
OHTO is committed to working with our communities to do everything we can to provide information and updates to help our sector make informed decisions. We will be updating this page on a regular basis to include links to resources that are relevant to the needs of our industry.
Last updated: October 20, 2021
Ontario COVID-19 Vaccine Certificate
- Download the Verify Ontario app – a free QR code scanner for businesses and organizations that makes it quicker and easier to confirm that visitors have been fully vaccinated. To learn more and to download the app, click here.
- News Release: Ontario’s Enhanced COVID-19 Vaccine Certificate
- Proof of Vaccination Guidance for Businesses and Organizations under the Reopening Ontario Act (gov.on.ca)
- Vaccine Update: The Last Mile Technical Briefing
- MOH briefing on vaccine certificate
- Ontario Human Rights Commission: policy statement on COVID-19 vaccine mandates and proof of vaccine certificates
Grants and Funding
- Tourism Recovery Program: This Ontario Goverment program will help for-profit tourism businesses in the attraction, accommodation, and leisure travel sectors protect critical jobs in communities across the province and help them prepare to reopen and safely welcome back visitors. Click here to learn more and to apply.
- Community Building Fund – Capital Stream: This provincial government fund provides support for non-profits, Indigenous communities and municipalities in the community sport and recreation sectors. Applications are accepted until September 29, 2021 at 5pm ET. Click here to learn more and to apply.
- Tourism Relief Fund (TRF): The federal government has launched a national $500-million fund support businesses to adapt their operations to meet public health requirements. This new fund is being delivered by FedDev Ontario, and applications are now being accepted.
- OHTO’s TRIP – Capital Funding: We’ve launched a new funding stream within our Tourism Recovery & Innovation Program (TRIP), which provides non-repayable funding up to $20,000 for eligible expenses incurred to modify operations for COVID-19 requirements. Read the guidelines and apply here.
- Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF): The second version of the RRRF is now available for small- and medium-enterprises who have been unable to access existing measures. The interest-free loans to help support fixed operating costs are delivered through FedDev Ontario and local CFDCs. Click here to apply.
- COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB): Click here to find out if you are eligible for savings on your energy bills as a result of COVID-19.
- Tourism Economic Development and Recovery Fund: Apply now for the government of Ontario’s $1.5m fund, which will support projects that develop innovative tourism products and experiences.
- Celebrate Ontario Blockbuster Fund: The Celebrate Ontario Blockbuster fund is accepting applications least four months before your event start date to supports costs related to hosting major one-time events.
- Digital Main Street: The provincial and federal governments announced further funding for Digital Main Street, to help small businesses reopen, recover, and grow after COVID-19. Click here to find out if you are eligible for support.
- Various dates in September: The Ontario Trillium Foundation is hosting information sessions on the new Community Building Fund – Capital Stream. Register in advance here.
- July 14, 19, 21, 26: FedDev Ontario will host four technical briefings on the new Tourism Relief Fund. Register in advance for the sessions all held at 10:00 am: July 14, July 19, July 21 (French), and July 26.
- Ongoing: Digital Main Street is offering free ongoing webinars to help you build your skills in digital marketing, social media, and website best practices. View their schedule here.
- The Ontario Government is launching its Enhanced COVID-19 Vaccine Certificate starting September 22, 2021, where Ontarians will need to be fully vaccinated (two doses plus 14 days) and provide proof of vaccination along with photo ID to access higher-risk indoor public settings and facilities where face coverings cannot always be worn. Read the Ontario News Release here and read Ontario’s New Requirement for Proof of Vaccination in Certain Settings: FAQ here.
- The Tourism Economic Recovery Ministerial Task Force led by Tim Hudak has released its final report containing ten recommendations to the government on how best to support the tourism industry as it recovers.
- As Ontario is in Step 3 of re-opening, review the Roadmap to Reopen page or read the full regulations here.
- Rapid antigen test kits will be made available to a variety of organizations, including Chambers of Commerce and local pharmacies, to support safe operations in tourism businesses. To find if you are eligible for free tests, visit this site.
- TIAC has created a new resource hub for tourism operators and destination partners called “Elevating Canadian Experiences”, designed to help grow and adapt your business and build tourism capacity in your region. Explore their collection of resources and training opportunities.
- The Ontario Tourism Education Corporation (OTEC) is offering two training sessions for workers who are working full-time, part-time or currently furloughed; one focused on leadership and one focused on resiliency. Click to view the leadership and resiliency session flyers for more information and to register.
- View the recorded sessions from the North & Eastern Ontario Local Food Conference here.
- TIAC is asking for your help engaging your Member of Parliament to support tourism recovery. Take a few minutes to send a letter to your MP by using the simple tool at the bottom of this website.
- Northumberland and Renfrew County Community Futures organizations have collaborated on a video tutorial (in English or French) that will help de-mystify preparing applications for funding programs.
- Digital Main Street’s shopHERE program can help you create an online store and receive training, support, and help with marketing. You’ll also get ad credits and a free .ca domain! Find out if you are eligible and get started.
- Read the Reconnecting Ontarians: Re-emerging as a Global Leader white paper, an action plan for economic and social recovery for Ontario’s Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries.
- WSIB Ontario’s Health and Safety Excellence program rewards businesses for implementing safe work practices with incentives and public recognition. Sign up for an info session here to learn more about how you can offset costs you have already spent.
- As part of its new workplace education and enforcement campaign, the provincial government is conducting inspection blitzes across the province. Don’t be caught unprepared! Develop your COVID-19 workplace safety plan using the template provided.
- Destination Canada has shared a resource entitled “Rebuilding Traveller Confidence: The importance of keeping safety top of mind and in plain sight”. Read their four steps with actual examples from tourism businesses across the country.
- The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has created a self-certified Safe Travel Stamp based on worldwide industry protocols. In Ontario, this project is being implemented by TIAO – visit this website to learn about how you can get the Safe Travel Stamp.
- Google for Small Business has prepared a page with resources to help you get your business through COVID-19, including tips for keeping your page updated, and free digital skills training.
- Destination Northern Ontario’s Adapt2020 webinar series recordings are available to view here.
Surveys & Research Results
- As travel is one of the things that Canadians are looking forward to the most, it’s a time of re-evaluation for most. Abacus Data shares insights on post-pandemic aspirations of the average Canadian here.
- Abacus Data conducted a survey of 2,000 Ontario residents who were self-identified as “travellers” (those who prior to the pandemic took at least one leisure trip a year). Key findings suggests that travellers are worried about the virus and will not be booking travel during the second wave. Find the results comparing RTO11 with the rest of Ontario here.
- Click to see the latest results from July 27 in Destination Ontario’s ongoing review of travel sentiment and behaviour specific to Ontario. Previous results: March 26, February 23, January 26, December 22, November 27, October 15
- OHTO’s third survey results (Sept/Oct 2020) can be viewed here. OHTO’s second survey results (collected May 1-8 2020) can be viewed in comparison to the first survey results (March 16-20 2020) here.
- Destination Canada is polling Canadians on an ongoing basis regarding their sentiment to welcome visitors to their area. Click for results.
- Government of Canada’s Resources for Canadian Businesses
- Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
- FEDEV Ontario
- Employment and Social Development Canada COVID-19 Services
- BDC Support for Entrepreneurs
- Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses
- Government of Ontario updates
- Ontario Chamber of Commerce Preparedness Toolkit for Ontario Businesses
- Ontario’s Workplace PPE Supplier Directory
There are several other tourism organizations that play an important role in distilling the information being released on a daily basis to the tourism sector. We encourage our stakeholders to review the following list of organizations, and subscribe to their newsletters wherever possible.
- Haliburton Highlands
- OVTA & Renfrew County Economic Development
- Lanark County Tourism Association
- Frontenac County
- Lennox and Addington County
- Hastings County
- Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO)
TIAO, the voice of tourism in Ontario, is working to consult with the provincial government to ensure the unique needs of tourism-based businesses are met by their relief programs.
- Destination Ontario
Destination Ontario promotes Ontario as a travel destination.
- Attractions Ontario
Attractions Ontario promotes attractions in the province, such as adventure tourism businesses, museums, historical attractions, etc.
- Festival and Events Ontario
Festivals and Events Ontario supports the festival and events industry in Ontario.
- Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association
ORHMA is dedicated to fostering a positive business climate for Ontario’s hospitality industry.
- Tourism Industry Association of Canada
TIAC is the voice of Canada’s tourism industry, and is working to consult the federal government to shape relief programs.
- Destination Canada
Destination Canada is a Crown corporation owned by the Government of Canada, whose mission is to unite and empower Canada’s tourism leaders through compelling research, strategy, and storytelling to drive visitor economy.
- Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada
The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) focuses on creating partnerships between associations, organizations, government departments and industry leaders from across Canada to support the growth of Indigenous tourism in Canada.