OHTO receives $1 million in relief

By Chad Ingram

The Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization, of which Haliburton County is a part, is receiving $1 million from the Federal Economic Development Agency of Ontario to help tourism-based businesses, which have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, prepare to welcome back customers when it is safe for them to do so.

That virtual announcement was made June 1, with Marie-France Lalonde, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, explaining the funding is being used to give tourism businesses grants of up to $20,000 in order to make adaptations for a safe reopening including renovations and retrofits, purchasing new technology or digitizing operations, implementing health and safety protocols, and purchasing equipment, including personal protective equipment.

“Today’s investment is helping to deliver support to local tourism businesses across Ontario’s Highlands,” Lalonde said. “Through this funding, we are assisting 70 businesses from one of the hardest-hit sectors of this pandemic as they rebuild and prepare for recovery.”

Nicole Whiting, executive director of OHTO, thanked the ministry for the funding, saying money had been flowing to about 40 businesses throughout the region, and that there were applications for assistance for another 30 businesses underway.

“We are extremely grateful to be working with FedDev Ontario to deliver this important funding. I couldn’t be prouder of our region and the tourism sector we represent,” Whiting said. “The COVID-19 crisis has been devastating to our industry, but our operators and our communities have demonstrated they can rise to the challenge with creativity, innovation and resilience. This funding recognizes the value of the effort, commitment, and sacrifices made adapting to provide safe experiences. It has been a privilege to work in collaboration with our partners to support the tourism businesses in our region.”