Covid-19 Funding Resources

Ontario 2021 Budget Announcement - March 24, 2021

The government showed support for the Tourism Industry that was hit hard by the COVID-19 Pandemic that caused stay-at-home orders and economic closures to help stop the spread. A package was presented that included an additional $400 million program that is aimed at tourism and hospitality businesses - in addition to the $225 million that was already announced. With this funding:

Tax Credits — Re-stating an announcement first made in the 2020 budget, the government is pledging to introduce legislation for a $150-million tax credit on money spent by Ontario residents on or at Ontario attractions — when it is safe to do so.

Supporting RTOs — The province’s Regional Tourism Organizations will get an additional $15 million through 2022 to help stabilize and support the tourism sector’s efforts to attract domestic and international visitors.

Ontario Arts Council — Funding to the Council will increase by $10 million in 2021-22.

Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant ($100m) 

A new program, separate from the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, designed to support tourism and hospitality small businesses.  Businesses must demonstrate they have experienced a minimum 20 per cent revenue decline and have less than 100 employees to qualify.  There is expectation for the government to release further details in the coming days on when the application process will take place but are reassured that the revenue calculation formula will reflect the seasonal nature of tourism, unlike the Ontario Small Business Support Grant.  Please note if you were eligible for the Ontario Small Business Support grant, you can’t also apply for this grant too. 

Tourism Recovery Program ($100m)  

The newly announced Tourism Recovery Program is a new government initiative. Details on the program remain to be revealed, however the budget document states it will “provide support for historically successful businesses that have helped to drive employment and visitation in their regions by assisting with costs related to restructuring, safe reopening, recalibrated marketing activities and partnership development.” 

TIAO has reached out to the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries for more details and will invite civil servants to provide more details on the program on one of TIAO’s stakeholder calls as soon as possible.  

Ontario Small Business Support Grant Doubled (Total program cost $3.4 billion) 

For those tourism businesses that were eligible for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, the budget revealed that you’re in line for an automatic second payment without even needing to reapply. The government announced it was more than doubling the original financial envelope of the initial program to $3.4 billion. Remember, if you have not applied for the first payment, you have only till March 31st to make your claim.  

Digital Main Street ($10m) 

The government announced that it was adding $10 million to the digital main street program to help more small businesses achieve a digital transformation and serve customers effectively online. The program will continue to provide digital transformation grants, an online learning platform, training programs, and Digital Service Squads offering technical support to small business owners. 

Support for Resource-Based Tourism Businesses ($1.3m) 

The government has announced further targeted support for resource‐based tourism businesses that have been impacted by the COVID‐19 pandemic.  Those eligible commercial outpost camps and hunting and fishing outfitters would receive another year of relief from certain rents and fees, providing approximately $1.3 million in financial assistance. 

Ontario’s Provincial Parks (Unknown total cost at this point) 

The Ontario government is to make access to provincial parks and conservation areas free of charge from Monday to Thursday, from May 1st to September 2nd. We’ve been informed that for businesses that have purchased summer or year-round permits, you will receive an extension to your permit of a year free of charge.  

In addition, “Ontario will also invest an estimated $3.9 million over three years to enhance the provincial park experience by using technology to better connect the people of Ontario with a one‐stop shop to help them find recreational opportunities that fit their location and interests. The province and local businesses will collaborate to develop ideas to bolster Ontario’s tourism economy and create new ways to enjoy provincial parks.” More details when we receive them.  

2021 Reconnect Festival and Events Program 

Over the last year, festival and event organizers have taken innovative approaches to develop and deliver alternative programming while incorporating enhanced health and safety measures. These innovative ideas are creating opportunities for Ontarians to reconnect with the beauty and diversity of their communities in new ways, whether in person or online, while providing local jobs. 

The Ontario Government is pleased to announce that they are investing $20 million through the 2021 Reconnect Festival and Events Program to provide support to event organizers who are finding new, exciting and engaging ways to deliver local programming during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible festivals and events must be taking place between April 1st 2021 and March 31st 2022. 

For information on the program including changes to eligibility, funding priorities and program details, please see the Reconnect Festival and Event Program Application Guide.

The deadline to apply for the 2021 Reconnect Festival and Event Program is Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at 5 p.m. (EDT). Information about how to apply to the program is available at

Businesses: Get help with COVID-19 costs

Find out if your business is eligible for grants to help with the cost of personal protective equipment, property taxes, energy bills and extra support if you have to close or significantly restrict services because of provincial public health measures.

Click here:  and see if you apply. 


In response to COVID-19, the Hamilton Halton Brant Regional Tourism Association (HHBRTA) has developed a time limited “Covid-19 Regional Tourism Recovery” Program to support tourism industry’s business re-emergence efforts. There are four (4) program opportunities to support the diverse businesses located in the region.

This Program has since concluded. Stay Tuned for future Funding Opportunities. 


1. Health and Safety Business Requirement Expense Program 

The Health and Safety Business Requirement Expense Program is designed to assist HHBRTA tourism industry operators with re-opening operations, while reducing the risk of the transmission of COVID-19 among workers and visitors. As we assist you in restoring safe services, HHBRTA has developed a program to help alleviate some costs for the purchase of approved health and safety expenses.

Eligible applicants can potentially be re-imbursed up to a maximum of $500.00 (pre-tax), and is retroactive to as early as April 1st, 2020. All receipt(s) are to be submitted with your application for full re-imbursement.  

2. Consumer Confidence Video 

The Consumer Confidence Video Program is designed to support tourism business operators in their efforts to rebuild their business and be market-ready through the aid of a short engaging promotional video. The content of the video will be developed to provide assurance to consumers and employees of safety precautions the business is undertaking. It will also advertise the business operator’s unique product offering and positive guest experiences and will be used by HHBRTA in qualified seasonal marketing campaigns. 

3. Visitor Experience Market Readiness Program 

This program is designed to assist tourism stakeholders by enhancing the market-readiness of your tourism product and/or services. Based on your tourism business sector, HHBRTA wants to support creativity, ingenuity and innovation to stimulate your tourism business and maintain your current customers and attract new audiences.

The scope of Visitor Experience Market-Readiness Program is broadened to ensure tourism businesses have access to funds that enable our industry to recover in an innovative and inspirational ways. HHBRTA is committed to ensuring your resilience through these times, as we continue to strengthen the economic value of tourism in our region.

4. Destination Visual Content Program - Phase 1(Completed) + Phase 2 

In October 2020, HHBRTA completed Phase 1 of our Destination Visual Content Program.  After assessing our digital asset database and speaking with industry partners we realized we had many gaps and deficits within our digital database as well as found it difficult to market different experiences digitally with masks now being apart of our experiences reality. Through this program we are able to fill our digital content gap and support industry by providing new digital assets that can be used now and in the future. 

During Phase 1 of this program we were able to go all over the region and capture a wide variety of experiences at over 25 partner locations and areas which included: Georgetown, St. George, Acton, Brantford, Stoney Creek, Oakville, Ayr, and Milton. 

The digital assets for Phase 1 will be available late November to view and download for industry on our CrowdRiff Media Hub, here . We are exploring a Phase 2 of this project based on industry needs and demand. We plan to launch the second portion of the program in Spring 2021. If you are a tourism operator in need of new digital assets, please fill out the request for interest applicaton below. 

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