July 6, 2020

Reposted from the Oakville Beaver

The Province of Ontario has announced that Halton Region will receive $450,000 to drive local tourism as it rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ontario’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries Lisa MacLeod discussed the funding and the impact COVID-19 has had on tourism during a press conference at the Bronte Harbour on Friday, July 3.

She was joined Oakville MPP Stephen Crawford, Oakville North-Burlington MPP Effie Triantafilopoulos, Burlington MPP Jane McKenna and Maria Fortunato, executive director of the Hamilton Halton Brant Regional Tourism Association.

“With COVID-19 our sectors were hit first, we were hit hardest and unfortunately we will take the longest to recover because we are facing a triple threat. First and foremost is the public health issues…the second is the economic crisis…and finally a social crisis,” said MacLeod.

“Just because we flick the switch and we’re open for business doesn’t mean people will want to go back to their old consumer behaviours, which is why the ministry is investing $13 million to encourage Ontarians to reconnect in their own communities.”

In Halton, MacLeod said the Province is investing $350,000 into the regional tourism organization to deliver locally driven marketing programs that will show residents exactly what their communities have to offer.

This investment was made possible through a partnership between the provincial agency Destination Ontario and the crown corporation Destination Canada.

The minister said another $100,000 will go towards the Burlington Sound of Music Festival, so that event, which was cancelled for 2020, will be viable in 2021.

Festival organizers applied for these funds through the Province’s Celebrate Ontario program.

MacLeod said in the months ahead she hopes to open a new funding stream that festivals can apply for.

“In total today I am announcing $450,000 so that the people of Oakville and Burlington will be able to start to get back to normal and start to reconnect with their loved ones, their neighbours and their local businesses,” said MacLeod.

“It is not going to be easy, which is why I have engaged on a tour across Ontario to demonstrate that whether you are going to a local patio, a local ice cream shop, a local tourism attraction, a gallery, a museum, even your public library, it is safe because we put in place the rigorous safety protocols for both the patron and the worker.”

Fortunato said the funding would help the local tourism industry and noted the announcement demonstrates the Province’s commitment to support local businesses as they reopen and begin their journey toward economic viability.

The announcement was also well received by Oakville Councillor and Visit Oakville Tourism board member Sean O’Meara.

“It’s much needed. A lot of our businesses and attractions are hurting,” he said.

“We know a lot of people are going to be having stay-cations, we want to make sure they come and support local and anything we can get promote our local businesses is so welcome. I thank the premier and Minister MacLeod for making those contributions. I look forward to seeing them rolled out and put into action.”

The Province has also announced the launch of Ontario Live- a new virtual hub designed to promote and support businesses in the tourism, sport, and creative sectors.

The new hub reconnects Ontario artists, tourism operators, attractions and businesses with online audiences from across the province and around the world.