Ontario Releases Tourism Economic Recovery Report

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A sunset over the water in Gravenhurst. Photo by Basil Thomas on Unsplash

Today, the Ontario government released a report prepared by the Tourism Economic Recovery Ministerial Task Force, which makes recommendations on how to support the province’s $36-billion tourism industry recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, was joined by Tim Hudak, Chair of the Tourism Economic Recovery Ministerial Task Force, to provide details about the report, which will feed into the ministry’s strategic five-year plan, at the Shaw Festival Theatre in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

The report provides 10 key recommendations about how to rebuild and reshape the future of Ontario’s tourism industry. The recommendations include reducing red tape for tourism businesses, restoring consumer confidence in visitors through collaboration between public health officials and the tourism industry and encouraging Ontarians to experience the province through industry co-ordinated travel days. The report also suggests new opportunities to showcase the best Ontario has to offer through itineraries, packages and trails that will make it easier to find local Ontario products and experiences.

“COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on Ontario’s tourism industry. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have listened to and worked closely with industry experts from across our sectors to help assess the impacts of the pandemic and how best to support them,” said Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. “As we look to the future, the recommendations and proposals presented in this report will play a vital role in helping our government develop a clear path forward to ensure the long-term recovery of Ontario’s tourism industry. I want to thank Tim Hudak and the members of the Tourism Economic Recovery Task Force for their time, diligence and passionate efforts.”

The Tourism Economic Recovery Ministerial Task Force – led by former Culture, Tourism and Recreation Minister Tim Hudak – was asked to provide strategies and advice to help position Ontario and its local communities as destinations of choice for travel, as well as identify products and experiences that enhance destination development. The task force’s report is informed by industry research, advice and recommendations put forward by the 14 Ministerial Advisory Councils at the onset of the pandemic, and formal submissions received from individuals and sector associations across Ontario’s tourism industry.

“After the changes and challenges that were brought on by this global pandemic, Ontarians will want to create new memories and experiences with their families. Minister MacLeod and the Tourism Economic Recovery Ministerial Task Force want to help make that happen and want to help Ontarians rediscover all of the amazing attractions Ontario has to offer,” said Tim Hudak, Chair, Tourism Economic Recovery Ministerial Task Force. “I am honoured to have served as the Task Force’s Chair that comprised of a membership of so many talented tourism leaders to help craft a plan that will help people create memories of a lifetime. The work of this group will also play a key role in getting Ontarians back on the payroll in our tourism and hospitality sectors.”

Ontario will carefully review the task force’s recommendations. This input will be critical to the development of the ministry’s strategic five-year plan and will help encourage essential sector transformation, ensuring Ontario tourism continues to be a key pillar of the province’s economy and regional employment while remaining globally competitive for tourists and investment.

“Arts and culture tourism is an essential part of the overall tourism economy and one that punches well above its weight in terms of economic amplification. Arts tourists stay for long periods and invest in other activities; eating at local restaurants, staying at hotels, visiting wineries, markets and local shops and enjoying many other tourism destinations,” said Tim Jennings, Executive Director of the Shaw Festival. “I’m thrilled the government has commissioned this report – it is essential that cultural tourism be given the resources to help Ontario build back quickly and to new heights. We know, in working alongside the minister and her staff throughout the last 16 months, that she shares these thoughts and interests and is committed to helping our sector help Ontario recover!”

Quick Facts

  • The Tourism Economic Recovery Ministerial Task Force was created in March 2021 to provide advice and information to the Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries on strategies, tactics and approaches that the government should consider when supporting the economic recovery of the tourism sector in Ontario.
  • In December 2020, the ministry asked industry partners in the heritage, tourism, sports, and arts and culture sectors for their feedback on a White Paper. The paper, Reconnecting Ontarians, is a broad-based recovery strategy that touches on all industries represented by the ministry that will inform the development a strategic five-year plan.
  • Tourism is a key economic driver in Ontario – in 2018, the tourism industry supported more than 390,000 jobs and generated over $36 billion of economic activity for the province.
  • As announced in the 2021 Budget, Ontario is investing more than $400 million over the next three years in new initiatives to support tourism, culture, sport and recreation sectors. This builds on investments of $225 million announced earlier, bringing the total support for these sectors to more than $625 million since the pandemic began.

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