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FedNor offers boost for tourism

The $500 million Tourism Relief Fund will be spread over two years and will include $50 million for Indigenous tourism initiatives and $15 million for national initiatives. Over the program’s duration, FedNor will spend $25.3 million.

Designed to help tourism businesses adapt their operations to meet public health requirements, the funds will also help with investment in products and services to further their growth.

A news release to The Chronicle-Journal explained that eligible applicants include “tourism entities that cater mainly to visitors, including businesses, not-for-profit organizations such as tourism associations, as well as band councils or other Indigenous organizations and co-operatives.”

The release also stated that applicants must meet at least one of the following criteria to become eligible for the funding:

• 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; or

• Provide an anchor product or service in a tourism destination.

“It is really geared toward businesses, organizations and not-for-profits that are looking to pivot or adapt their business models and their offerings as the markets return, evolve and change,” said Paul Pepe, manager of Tourism Thunder Bay.

“It focuses on businesses who are attractions and destination drivers and how they could expand and meet the anticipated needs of travellers as we emerge from COVID.”

Pepe says it all starts with tourism development and having experiences that attract people.

The funding program aims to help the tourism sector enhance and develop new experiences and enhance existing experiences for travellers as they emerge from the pandemic, he says.

Pepe also warns that businesses who are giving the program some thought have to come up with 50 per cent of the money for their business plans.

“They have to have that equity as well,” he said. “For some it’s easy, and for some coming out of the pandemic, it’s not, but it’s good to see the fund out there and the dollars made available to the industry.”

He added that a lot of businesses are trying to figure out where they fit into the program.

“You can’t just do the same old, same old with it,” he says. “You have to show that you are expanding, growing and changing to anticipate the demands of the new travellers.”

Chain hotels and restaurants are not eligible for the program.

Meanwhile, growing Indigenous tourism is something that Thunder Bay Tourism and the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission have made a commitment too. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Thunder Bay CDED and Indigenous Tourism Ontario was signed in agreement to collaborate, work together and support the growth of Indigenous Tourism in the Thunder Bay Area.

“Our goal, long term, is to have Thunder Bay as a global gathering place for Indigenous business, gatherings, meetings, conferences, education and health care,” says Pepe.

“The tourism relief funding is a good tool to help with developing new experiences and enhancing existing ones that will meet the needs of travellers and will make destinations more attractive across Canada.”
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