Tourism Toronto to receive close to $8M in federal funding
TORONTO -- The federal government is doling out close to $8 million in funding to support Tourism Toronto.
In a news release issued Sunday morning, Ottawa announced that the tourism marketing organization will receive $7.9 million through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund, a program geared at assisting those unable to access existing federal relief measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Our tourism sector and the 1.8 million people it employs across Canada have been hit hard by COVID-19, and we’re here for them," Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, said in a written statement.
"During National Tourism Week, our message to the sector and those whose livelihoods depend on it is clear: we’re working with you to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. We’re working with you as our economy reopens so we can come back strong.”
The federal government called organizations like Tourism Toronto, which helps attract visitors to the country's largest city, "critical" and noted that providing financial relief will assist in bringing people back to Toronto when the economy reopens.
"Canada’s tourism sector showcases our country’s culture, diversity, natural beauty and unique experiences to the world. It generates significant economic benefits across the country and supports one in 10 jobs," the news release read.
"The funds being delivered in partnership through FedDev Ontario and (the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario) will help to support the economic recovery of this critical sector in the months to come."
Speaking to CP24 on Sunday, Joly said the funding, which has been given to 66 tourism offices around the country, is just the first step Ottawa is taking to help the struggling tourism sector.
"We’ve heard the call for help and we wanted to be there to support our local businesses, our local tourism operators," she said.
Joly noted that there will likely be a big push for Canadians to travel within the country this summer.
"It is the first time that the federal government is supporting marketing campaigns that are linked to the fact of travelling locally," she said. "I think there is a new movement in the coming days, and weeks, and months which will be visit locally. I think this will help save the summer for many tourism businesses."
Mayor John Tory said the infusion of cash from the federal government will help get the tourism industry in Toronto "back on its feet."
"It's all going to help because we have a big job to do restarting what is a huge industry, a huge part of our economy here," Tory told CP24 in an interview on Sunday morning.
Bars and restaurants have been closed for dine-in service since the province declared a state of emergency in March and tourist attractions have been shuttered to slow the spread of the virus.
The pandemic has brought tourism to a standstill in the city, which saw more than 44 million visitors last year.
"The help of the federal government is most welcome in making sure we can get this industry back on its feet, start to promote our city as borders open and as people travel more," Tory said.
He added that he hopes Toronto can attract tourists from within the province and country.
"I hope what we will also do is expend some of that effort on just convincing people in the Toronto, GTA, southern Ontario area to visit Toronto on a staycation because I think there will be a lot of that going on too," he said.
"We've got to get people coming here. It is going to be safe because we are going to make sure it is."