Hello and welcome to the latest edition of TIAO’s weekly newsletter. As we head into the long weekend, we wanted to thank you for your continued support of the work that TIAO does and we hope that you are able to enjoy a weekend with your friends and families.
This week, TIAO launched its pre-election survey designed to capture your views as the short campaign for the Ontario Provincial Election is set to begin. The information we collect will lay the foundations for our work during the provincial election. At a critical time for the tourism industry, when our recovery is far from secured, we need to ensure that prospective members of the provincial parliament are fully aware of the challenges we face. We need to utilize our relationships with all political parties and the media to make sure the issues that matter to the tourism industry are raised and answered during the election. So please complete the survey by clicking here and please share as widely as possible.
Also happening this week, the funding portals for Tourism Relief Funding from RTO’s and ITO in partnership with FedDev Ontario opened. Please visit the dedicated RTO TRF site for the fund by clicking here where you can also learn more about the program and find your own dedicated portal for your local RTO to find details on how to apply and important dates associated with your application. If you have questions or would like advice about your application, please don’t hesitate to contact the TIAO team or use the contact details provided by your local RTO.
On this week's TIAO stakeholder calls we went through the recent federal government budget, picking out some of the key announcements pertaining to the tourism industry and the wider economy. You can download our slides from that call further down in this newsletter. On the call itself, we expressed our disappointment that key recommendations put forward by the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses and TIAC were not taken up by the federal government. The decision not to extend financial support for the tourism industry is unfortunate because as we all know, reopening doesn’t mean recovery, especially when there are significant barriers to travel remaining and depressed consumer confidence. Specifically, TIAO will continue to work with TIAC to push for national solutions to the appalling examples of price gouging in the commercial insurance market and for further debt forgiveness for those who have taken out CEBA, RRRF and HASCAP loans.
However, there were a series of welcome announcements that TIAO strongly supports and that have been key advocacy asks over the past several years in collaboration with industry partners. One of the key announcements, actually announced before the budget was released, were key changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). These changes will allow businesses in accommodation and food services to fill a larger proportion of essential positions with temporary foreign workers and will open up the opportunity for more tourism and hospitality businesses to fill persistently vacant low-wage positions through the TFWP—key asks that TIAO has been pushing for.
The federal government also confirmed its intention to develop a new post-pandemic Federal Tourism Growth Strategy focused on the labour crisis and destination development. Other announcements in the budget included financial support for Indigenous tourism, a tax incentive for small businesses, defunding border closure operations, further consultations on reducing credit card process fees and measures to address the housing crisis. TIAO will of course share any opportunities for stakeholders to take part in any of the proposed new consultations and will ensure the voice of the tourism industry in Ontario is heard. Everyone at TIAO would like to thank the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses and TIAC for all their hard work in fighting for our industry.
As COVID-19 relief winds down, TIAO will continue working to ensure the stability of long-term tourism funds: tools like the Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) will become increasingly important to financing the tourism marketing that is critical to attracting visitors back to local Ontario destinations. In the next weeks, TIAO and our tourism delegation will meet with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to discuss challenges with MAT implementation and solutions to improve the current MAT framework so that it can best support local tourism economies.
Finally, this week the TIAO DEI working group held its latest webinar as part of the Building Inclusive Tourism: Monthly Webinar Series entitled ‘Best Practices of Integrating DEI Principles at the DMO Level’. Thank you to all of those that attended the session and to our excellent speakers, moderator and curators of the session. Please visit our website here to learn of future sessions and access past sessions.
Thank you for taking the time to read our latest TIAO newsletter. As ever, if you have any questions or queries, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.
President & CEO
Dr. Jessica Ng
Director, Policy & Gov't Affairs