Tourism operators are getting some help, as they recover from a lost summer due to COVID-19. 

"In light of COVID, of course, it's been a devastating and challenging season and year for the industry," said Justin Lafontaine at Ontario Tourism.

"With that being said, there's opportunity for people to think about ways to pivot or adapt or create new opportunities in innovation, as a result of the changing landscape," Lafontaine continued.

The closure of the American border has hit outfitters hard, but there may be some opportunities to make up some of the lost revenue, as Canadians look for new experiences. During yesterday's webinar, Lafontaine talked about a business development program, which aims to help start new tourism experiences or destinations. 

"We know that this season is unique like no other, and I've heard from across the province interest and demand for shoulder season and winter season is beyond any other year in the past. So, I think there's opportunity for all of the regions in Ontario -- and tourism businesses -- to look at new ways to present their offerings," Lafontaine added, during the webinar.

A electronic petition in support of outfitters posted in July had more than 8,600 names early Friday, and it received support from MP Eric Melillo last month. There are estimates the association with more than 200 resorts generates about $450 million a year, with more than 90 per cent of their guests coming from the United States.

In addition, despite the tough circumstances, many operators opened their doors in the middle of the night and dug into their own pockets to help feed and provide shelter for evacuees from the Red Lake 49 wildfire in mid-August.

The Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab is a non-profit initiative created at the University of Windsor to find, foster and support new tourism ideas, experiences and partnerships, to cultivate and propel collaborations between the tourism and tech sectors, and to build a community of tourism innovators, idea makers and entrepreneurs in Ontario.

The Spark program includes:

  • Region-wide call out for applications from individuals, small businesses and non-profits
  • Application reviews by a jury including local and provincial tourism innovators
  • Finalists' Pitch Session (our friendly take on a tourism Dragon's Den)
  • Selection of 3 winning applicants from each participating region

For more information:

“Spark" Mentorships & Grants Program

Fingers crossed as outfitters face long winter

People are basically homeless, outfitter

'We're in tough shape,' outfitter

Petition advocating government support for northwestern Ontario tourism