News Release

For Immediate Release

RTO4 announces support for tourism recovery in Wellington County, Waterloo Region, Perth and Huron County

RTO4 delivers $4.65 million for 75 businesses and organizations, with support from the Government of Canada’s Tourism Relief Fund, to attract visitors and support future growth

UPDATED APR 18, 2023    Kitchener, ON

Today, RTO4 announced support for 75 tourism businesses and organizations in Wellington County, Waterloo Region, Perth and Huron County to recover from the pandemic and prepare for future growth.

RTO4 received $5 million through the Government of Canada’s Tourism Relief Fund, delivered by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), to help local tourism organizations and busineses safely welcome back visitors, recover from the impacts of the pandemic and prepare for future growth.

This includes Waterloo Central Railway, which is receiving $100,000 to increase capacity through the restoration of two new coaches, and enhance the visitor experience by providing shelter for passengers through stations.

Please see the backgrounder for information on all projects receiving support.


“The Government of Canada’s $78-million investment through the Tourism Relief Fund is helping communities across southern Ontario. With this funding, southern Ontario’s Regional Tourism Organizations and Indigenous Tourism Ontario are providing hundreds of local businesses and organizations with the support they need to create jobs, attract more visitors and grow local economies, now and into the future.”

  • The Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

“The Canadian tourism sector continues to be one of the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are fully committed to supporting businesses and organizations through these challenging times, keeping safety as the top priority while ensuring they get support to quickly recover, innovate their products and services, and thrive. The Tourism Relief Fund will help businesses/organizations adapt, make improvements, and be ready to welcome back guests. It also feeds into a broader strategy to help the sector survive the pandemic, recover and grow. The Canadian economy will not fully recover until our tourism sector recovers.”

  • The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance

“We are immensely grateful to the Government of Canada and the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario for this critical support for the tourism industry. These projects announced today will make an impact on local businesses and organizations, in both the short and long term, on the road to recovery and reimagination by allowing stakeholders to make strategic investments in product and destination development.”

  • Andrea Gardi, Executive Director, RTO4

“We are very grateful for the financing provided by the Tourism Relief Fund as it has allowed us to proceed with several key projects we identified to strengthen our brand and bring more visitors to not only our heritage railway, but also to the Region of Waterloo and Woolwich Township. Coming out of the COVID-19 shut down, we were not in the position to move ahead with these projects without the assistance of the Fund.”

  • Peter McGough, General Manager, Waterloo Central Railway 

Quick facts

  • RTO4’s mission is to develop, enhance and strengthen a results-oriented and sustainable tourism economy through strategic industry partnerships.
  • The Government of Canada’s $5-million investment in RTO4 is part of an over $78-million investment for ITO and TROs in southern Ontario.
  • The Government of Canada’s $500-million Tourism Relief Fund is helping tourism-oriented businesses and organizations recover from the pandemic and prepare for future growth. FedDev Ontario is delivering nearly $120 million of the Tourism Relief Fund across southern Ontario.

Associated Links


Peter McGough
General Manager
Waterloo Central Railway

Andrea Gardi
Executive Director, RTO4

Edward Hutchinson
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

About Waterloo Central Railway

Waterloo Central Railway is a heritage railway offering historic passenger train rides on the Waterloo Spur between Northfield Drive in Waterloo, the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market, Village of St. Jacobs and Town of Elmira.They are proudly operated by the Southern Ontario Locomotive Restoration Society (SOLRS), a not-for-profit, registered charitable organization.  All ticket proceeds go toward supporting operations and restoration programs.

About RTO4

Regional Tourism Organization 4 Inc.was incorporated in October 2010 as part of the Ontario Ministry of Tourism’s request to build and support a competitive tourism industry in the region. RTO4 supports Wellington County, Waterloo Region, Perth and Huron County in developing and implementing the best destination management tactics to encompass the diverse interests of the area and grow the tourism economy.

About FedDev Ontario

For 13 years, the Government of Canada, through FedDev Ontario, has worked to advance and diversify the southern Ontario economy through funding opportunities and business services that support innovation, growth and job creation in Canada’s most populous region. The Agency has delivered impressive results, which can be seen in southern Ontario businesses that are creating innovative technologies, improving productivity, growing revenues, creating jobs, and in the economic advancement of communities across the region. Learn more about the impacts the Agency is having in southern Ontario by exploring our pivotal projects, our Southern Ontario Spotlight, and FedDev Ontario’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.