New Federal Support for Tourism Businesses

In a clear acknowledgement of the significant and unique hardship faced by the tourism industry as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has announced additional support through the Tourism Relief Fund, which will provide $500 million in support for the tourism sector over a two-year period.

The majority of the funding, $485 million, will be delivered by Regional Development Agencies (RDA’s) directly to tourism businesses and organizations for the creation of new tourism experiences, or to enhance existing ones.

An envelope of $15 million, delivered by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), will support the advancement of national tourism priorities aligned with Canada’s Federal Tourism Growth Strategy, such as destination development, seasonal and geographic dispersion, and human resources and skills development. This funding provides the opportunity to leverage the reach and expertise of national tourism organizations to support pan-Canadian or multi-regional activities addressing challenges facing the tourism sector on its path to recovery, like conferences and events, training and research, and strengthening networks.  More details on this portion of the fund are still forthcoming.

Indigenous tourism projects are important to Canada’s economic recovery efforts and a priority under the Fund, providing $50 million to specifically support Indigenous tourism initiatives.

In Manitoba, Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) will deliver these funds to help position Western Canada to be a destination of choice when domestic and international travel is once again safe by:

  • empowering tourism operators to create new or enhance existing tourism experiences and products to attract more local and domestic visitors; and,
  • helping the sector reposition itself to welcome international visitors by offering the best Canadian tourism experiences we have to offer the world.

Note: WD will only accept one application per business for each Tourism Relief Fund intake. Businesses will be limited to one successful application per year.

Financial support

Contributions to businesses will be either:

  • non-repayable contributions up to $100,000 for up to 50% of eligible costs or
  • fully repayable contributions up to $500,000 for up to 75% of eligible costs

Note: A business cannot receive a combination of a non-repayable and a repayable contribution for the same project.

Eligible activities

Tourism Relief Fund projects will focus on:

  • Product development: For example, projects that enhance tourism experiences; help tourism businesses adapt to the “new normal” and modernize their offerings; and, encourage the adoption of more environmentally sustainable and inclusive practices.
  • Destination development: For example, projects that position communities to take advantage of post-pandemic opportunities through strategic planning for medium- to long-term investments, as well as supporting destination development prospects in line with objectives set out in the Federal Tourism Growth Strategy.

Recognizing local realities, the regional development agencies (RDAs) will work to address the needs of businesses and communities on a regional basis across Canada and offer consistent support across the country in this critical time.

Eligible applicants

Eligible applicants include tourism entities that cater mainly to visitors, such as:

  • businesses
  • not-for-profit organizations, such as tourism associations
  • band councils or other Indigenous organizations and cooperatives

To be considered eligible for this fund, applicants must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • be a key supplier or operator in the visitor experience
  • be part of a defined tourism cluster or a tourism dependent community, including supporting downtown cores
  • provide an anchor product or service in a tourism destination

Not-for-profit organizations and Indigenous entities (not generating profits) will be eligible for non-repayable contributions.

Ineligible recipients

Businesses that are in the following industries are normally not eligible under this initiative:

  • restaurants
  • retail sector
  • hotel chains

Project contribution amounts would not normally exceed $500,000. The actual contribution amount will be based on the minimum amount required to carry out the project.

Project costs must be incurred by March 31, 2023.

For a comprehensive review of the Tourism Relief Fund and other supports from the Government of Canada, please click here.


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