Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries Lisa MacLeod at the Shaw Festival Theatre in Niagara-on-the-Lake, June 23, 2021. Photo credit: YouTube/Government of Ontario Announcements
On Wednesday, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries Lisa MacLeod was on hand at the Shaw Festival Theatre in Niagara-on-the-Lake to release a report put together by the Tourism Economic Recovery Ministerial Task Force.
The task force, headed by former tourism minister and local MPP Tim Hudak, formed in March on this year with a mandate to give expert advice and recommendations on how to help the province’s $36 billion tourism industry recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“After the changes and challenges that were brought on by this global pandemic, Ontarians will want to create new memories and experiences with their families. Minister MacLeod and the Tourism Economic Recovery Ministerial Task Force want to help make that happen,” said Hudak, who joined Minister MacLeod for the announcement.
“I am honoured to have served as the Task Force’s Chair that comprised of a membership of so many talented tourism leaders to help craft a plan that will help people create memories of a lifetime. The work of this group will also play a key role in getting Ontarians back on the payroll in our tourism and hospitality sectors.”
The group’s report provides 10 key recommendations about how to rebuild and reshape the future of Ontario’s tourism industry. The recommendations include reducing red tape for tourism businesses, restoring consumer confidence in visitors through collaboration between public health officials and the tourism industry, and encouraging Ontarians to experience the province through industry co-ordinated travel days.
The report also suggests new opportunities to showcase the best Ontario has to offer through itineraries, packages, and trails that will make it easier to find local Ontario products and experiences.
Among other tangible endorsements, the report recommends the continuation and expansion of the province’s 20 per cent travel expense incentive, which was first instituted by Minister MacLeod back in December last year.
“COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on Ontario’s tourism industry. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have listened to and worked closely with industry experts from across our sectors to help assess the impacts of the pandemic and how best to support them,” said Minister MacLeod.
“As we look to the future, the recommendations and proposals presented in this report will play a vital role in helping our government develop a clear path forward to ensure the long-term recovery of Ontario’s tourism industry. I want to thank Tim Hudak and the members of the Tourism Economic Recovery Task Force for their time, diligence and passionate efforts.”
The input provided by the task force will be used in the development of the ministry’s strategic five-year plan and will help encourage essential sector transformation.
Outside of former minister Hudak, a handful of other local experts and stakeholders were tapped to serve as members of the primary working group and its various subcommittees, including Serge Felicetti, Director of Business Development at the City of Niagara Falls, and Carolyn Hurst, Chair of the Board at Ontario Craft Wineries (OCW).
“On behalf of the OCW membership, I want to thank Minister MacLeod and Chair Tim Hudak for listening to our sector when putting together the Tourism Economic Recovery Report,” Hurst told The Niagara Independent.
“The pandemic has had a devastating effect on the agri-tourism sector, particularly our local wine regions. Along with targeted tax changes for our industry, I am hopeful that the proposals presented in the report will help ensure the long-term recovery of our sector.”
A full copy of the task force’s report can be viewed here