Dear Members,

This afternoon, Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, and the Minister responsible for tourism, announced details of the $500 million Tourism Relief Fund, first tabled in the 2021 Federal Budget which will be rolled out over two years.

The Tourism Relief Fund aims to support tourism businesses and organizations to adapt their operations to meet public health requirements while investing in products and services to facilitate their future growth.

The Hotel Association of Canada was invited by the Minister’s office to watch the announcement. We are pleased to share some of the key details with members:

What funding is available?
  • Contributions to for-profit businesses will be either:
  • non-repayable project contributions up to $100,000 for up to 50% of eligible costs; or
  • fully repayable project contributions up to $500,000 for up to 75% of eligible costs.
  • For not-for-profit organizations and Indigenous entities:
  • project contribution amounts will normally be non-repayable and would not normally exceed $500,000.

Who can apply?
Applicants must fall under one of the following parameters to be eligible for funding:
  • A key supplier/operator in the visitor experience
  • Part of a defined tourism cluster or tourism-dependent community
  • An anchor product or service in a destination

Are hotels eligible?
Eligible projects will fall under one of two themes:
  1. Product development/development and enhancement of tourism experiences to help tourism businesses adapt to the “new normal”, to modernize tourism offerings and to help the sector adopt more environmentally sustainable practices.
  2. Destination development: projects that would position communities to take advantage of post-pandemic opportunities through strategic planning for medium- to long-term investments, as well as supporting destination development, in-line with objectives set out in the Federal Tourism Growth Strategy.

Hotels may qualify if they are recognized as an anchor attraction in a local destination or are a key supplier or operator in the visitor experience in a region, or are part of a defined tourism cluster.

Potential projects for hotels that meet the criteria outlined above may vary based on regional needs. Some examples include:
  • Seasonal dispersion: investments in the development of tourism products to extend the hotel’s offerings into a new season (e.g. summer hotel creates winter programming to expand its open season).
  • New/expanded product offering: a hotel could bring in a new culinary program and/or adapt current programming to the local/regional market. This could increase the price point and/or length of stay.
  • Digital adoption: create and/or enhance online booking tools for a hotel.
  • Health and safety: funding for PPE could be requested.

What are the timelines?
  • The project start date cannot be earlier than April 19, 2021. For projects already underway, insert the day from which your organization began incurring eligible costs for activities associated with this project.
  • The project end date cannot be later than March 31, 2023.
  • Costs may be eligible on a retroactive basis up to 12 months prior to the receipt of a project application, but no earlier than April 19, 2021.

For more details on the eligibility criteria and application process, please consult the application guide.

The funding also includes a national tourism support envelope of $15 million, which will provide the opportunity to leverage the reach and expertise of national tourism organizations like HAC to support pan-Canadian or multi-regional activities addressing challenges facing the tourism sector on its path to recovery.

HAC spoke directly with Minister Joly, reiterating that while this support may be beneficial to some in our sector, tailored and continued wage and fixed costs support will be critical to our survival. The Minister acknowledged that tourism has been especially hard hit by COVID-19, and assured us that the Government will continue to stand behind us.

If you have any questions, please connect with Alana Baker, Vice-President of Policy and Public Affairs.