Tourism Relief Fund

On April 6th, the Hamilton Halton Brant Regional Tourism Association (HHBRTA) received a non-repayable contribution of $5 million from the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), to deliver the Tourism Relief Fund to tourism businesses in this region.

Support is available for small businesses in the tourism sector to recover from the impacts of the pandemic and seize new market opportunities through enhanced or new products and services.

Through HHBRTA for-profit businesses in Hamilton Halton Brant region can apply for non-repayable contributions of up to $100,000 for up to 50% of eligible project costs and not-for-profit organizations can apply for non-repayable contributions of up to $100,000 for 100% of eligible costs.


Application Eligibility:

The fund is open to: 

  • incorporated businesses, primarily small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • not-for-profit incorporated organizations (including tourism associations and destination marketing organizations)
  • co-operatives (for-profit and not-for-profit)
  • municipalities, Municipal Development Corporations, and related entities including Business Improvement Areas
  • post-secondary institutions
  • Indigenous/First Nations/Métis Settlement-owned businesses or organizations, an Indigenous organization such as Indigenous-led not-for-profits and organizations that include but are not limited to First Nations as represented by their Chief and Council, Tribal Councils, Indigenous Representative Organizations, Métis and Inuit organizations and Settlements

Applicants must be located within the regional boundaries of Hamilton Halton and Brant. The Hamilton Halton Brant Regional Tourism Association, (HHBRTA) area is comprised of the geographic areas of:

  • Halton Region
  • City of Burlington
  • Town of Oakville
  • Town of Halton Hills
  • Town of Milton
  • City of Hamilton
  • City of Brantford
  • County of Brant
  • Six Nations of the Grand River
  • Mississaugas of the Credit First Nations

Applicants must fall under one of the following parameters to be eligible for funding:

  1. A key supplier/operator in the visitor experience
    A key supplier/operator in the visitor experience is one that provides the infrastructure and services necessary to support a tourism economy, connects tourism products to potential markets, leads planning for sustainable destination development and supports capacity building/skill development in the sector.
  2. Part of a defined tourism cluster or tourism-dependent community
    A tourism cluster is a geographic concentration of businesses and organizations involved in tourism, linked by common and complementary products and services that are tailored to the visitor economy and supported by a network of services and associated institutions. A tourism cluster can include, but is not limited to, a community or region that is dependent on tourism for economic activity or is transitioning towards a more tourism-focused local economy.
  3. An anchor product or service in a destination
    An anchor product or service in a destination is defined as a key asset that serves as a motivator of travel to the region. It is the activity or product that provides the catalyst for the visitor to visit the destination. Anchor products may be operated by for-profit or not-for-profit organizations.

NOTE: Eligible applicants may fit under more than one of these categories and will have the opportunity to select all and explain how in the Application for Funding.

Ineligible Applicants:

  • Chain Hotels
  • Chain Restaurants
  • Crown Corporations
  • Retail Sector

Eligible Activities

Eligible projects will fall under one of two themes:

  1. Product development/development and enhancement of tourism experiences to help tourism businesses adapt to the “new normal”, to modernize tourism offerings and to help the sector adopt more environmentally sustainable practices.

Examples of project activities may include the following:

  • creating, adapting, and enhancing protocols and permanent infrastructure to meet health and safety requirements to accommodate visitors and employees to keep businesses operating
  • helping operators traditionally reliant on international markets, such as those in downtown cores, to create innovative tourism offerings attractive to local and domestic visitors
  • modernizing operations, attractions, greening initiatives, and online sales services
  • supporting businesses with the local promotion of tourism products, including digital and virtual reality experiences
  • developing capacity for more inclusive tourism experiences (e.g., staff training to ensure welcoming, inclusive environments to diverse clientele, gender-neutral washroom facilities, etc.)
  1. Destination development: projects that would position communities to take advantage of post-pandemic opportunities through strategic planning for medium- to long-term investments, as well as supporting destination development, in line with objectives set out in the Federal Tourism Growth Strategy.

Examples of project activities may include the following:

  • providing support to local communities to develop sustainable tourism plans based on research and market analysis, and designed to rebuild tourism confidence in communities
  • supporting seasonal dispersion by equipping tourism SMEs to extend their product offering to increase visitation during the winter and shoulder seasons
  • supporting destinations to implement tourism plans that create or improve local assets, facilities, and planning for key infrastructure
  • supporting the development and implementation of tourism economic development recovery plans that consider possible key market reactions when travel can safely resume
  • enhancing tourism services and experiences, including market readiness designed to help communities and SMEs develop experiential tourism, that will respond to visitor expectations post COVID-19
  • assisting industry partners to support recovery and rebuilding efforts through coordination, and developing new offerings and/or capacity building on behalf of the sector
  • implementing strategies to re-activate and animate downtown cores, main streets and business districts through activities, public art, and mixed-use spaces
  • supporting scale-up and market expansion activities for key enterprises essential to economic vitality and the local business climate

Project Streams

The most relevant project stream consideration will be asked of you when applying:

  • Visitor Development (Asset Creation) **Applications cannot include Marketing Campaigns
  • Experiential Product Development
  • Investment Attraction: Infrastructure Projects
  • Tourism Training Development (training and retention)

Funding Priorities

Priority consideration will be given to projects that:

  • support the Indigenous tourism sector
  • are led by a business/organization of strategic importance to the tourism sector in the region
  • contribute to the economic development of a region
  • contribute to job creation in the region
  • take place in a tourism-dependent community/region, including projects supporting downtown cores

Levels of Funding Available

HHBRTA will oversee the dispersal of Tourism Relief Fund dollars to local tourism businesses and organizations.

  • Businesses can apply for a non-repayable contribution between $20,000 and $100,000 for up to 50% of eligible project costs.
  • Non-profit organizations, municipalities and Indigenous entities are eligible for a non-repayable contribution between $20,000 and $100,000 for up to 100% of eligible project costs.

The projects that you are able to apply for can have a start day no earlier than April 19, 2021 and conclude no later than December 31, 2022. 

Eligible applicants must specify the amount of funding they are seeking. Funding requests must be between $20,000 - $100,000. 

Application Deadline

The Hamilton Halton Brant Regional Tourism Relief Fund Application Intake period has closed. Successful Applicants will be notifed in early June. 


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