RTO4 administered $600,000 through the Tourism Adaptation and Recovery Program to 139 businesses.

KITCHENER, ON – MARCH 1, 2022. Tourism is essential to the vitality of businesses and communities in Waterloo Region, Wellington, Huron and Perth Counties, with visitors traditionally drawn to the area’s attractions—from theatres and festivals to agri-tourism and heritage sites. The sector has been hit hard by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and tourism-related businesses are looking forward to building back stronger.

With support from a $600,000 Government of Canada investment, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario),  Regional Tourism Organization Inc. 4 (RTO4) provided non-repayable contributions of up to $20,000 to local tourism-oriented businesses. These contributions supported costs associated with adapting and eventually reopening, such as renovations and retrofits, equipment and fixtures, personal protective equipment, and support for technology and digitization. This project was in partnership with Explore Waterloo Region; the City of Guelph; Wellington County; Elora & Fergus Tourism; Wellington-Waterloo Community Futures; the Town of St. Marys; Huron County and Perth County.

The program supported 139 businesses and created and maintained over 170 jobs across the region.

One example of a business that has received support is One Axe Pursuits in Elora, Ontario, that is passionate about bringing people together outdoors and providing recreational adventures and experiential learning opportunities. With support from RTO4, One Axe Pursuits was able to keep clients and employees safe, warm and distanced—both indoors and outdoors—through the purchase of tent walls, heaters and Plexiglass shields, allowing them to stay open and maintain operations.

Another example is the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory, a family-friendly attraction where one can discover thousands of free-flying butterflies in a tropical garden, explore a collection of insects and meet live, exotic bugs. With support from RTO4, the Conservatory was able to install plexiglass barriers in customer service areas, add directional and safety signage to promote one-directional flow, and invest in PPE that enabled the attraction to reopen in a safe manner.

Organizations in the region’s tourism sector continue to demonstrate their resilience by adapting to challenges and seeking opportunities for recovery and growth. The Government of Canada is working to support these businesses and communities by helping maintain jobs and prepare the tourism sector for a strong recovery.

“While we finish the fight against COVID-19, the Government of Canada remains committed to supporting our tourism sector in communities across the country.  Through this investment in RTO4, we are working to help businesses adapt their operations, protect jobs and give local businesses the tools to welcome back visitors when it’s safe to do so,” says the Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

“We are immensely grateful to the Government of Canada and the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario for this critical support during difficult times. This program made an impact on local businesses, both in the short and long term, on the road to recovery and reimagination,” says Andrea Gardi, Executive Director of RTO4.