Investing in Northern Ontario’s Tourism Industry

Minister Lisa MacLeod, hit the road on a Northern Tour supporting tourism in Northern Ontario

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unforeseen and devastating impact on the Ontario tourism industry due to the resulting travel restrictions. In support of tourism in Northern Ontario, Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Cultural Industries, hit the road in August on a Northern Tour, visiting Sudbury, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay announcing important investments along the way.

During her first stop, Minister Lisa MacLeod visited Sudbury, joined by Guy Labine, CEO of Science North and Dr. Stephen Kosar, Chair of the Science North Board to announce an investment of more than $7 million from the province in Science North. The funding supports ongoing operations and administration, helping Science North to develop new exhibits and online content, perform maintenance and repairs. The announcement included over $219,000 in funding for student employment opportunities through the Ontario Summer Experience Program.

The following day, joined by Vic Fedeli, MPP for Nipissing, Minister Lisa MacLeod announced more than $690,000 toward festivals, as well as art and tourism sectors at the Discovery North Bay Museum. The funding includes $22,066 for the Discovery North Bay Museum, $106,611 for the North Bay Public Library, $74,300 for Amelia Rising Sexual Assault Centre of Nipissing, $282,300 for the North Bay and District Multicultural Centre, $65,600 for the Brain Injury Association of North Bay and Area and $36,300 for the Mattawa Women’s Resource Centre. MacLeod also announced $25,786 in funding for three local festivals.

In Sault Ste Marie, Minister Lisa MacLeod was joined by MPP Ross Romano, to announce the commitment of $1.2 million into a Northern Ontario tourism marketing campaign, providing an additional $700,000 to help destinations reopen safely. Developed in partnership with tourism stakeholders, the digital and social media summer campaign ran throughout August and encourages domestic travel in the Northwestern region. Celebrating the unlimited outdoor adventure opportunities, the campaign is designed to highlight the many great reasons to visit Northern Ontario in the summertime. The fall and winter campaigns will be developed with Northern Ontario partners and will expand to cover destinations across the north, with content highlighting the many seasonal activities.

Finally, MacLeod joined General Manager, Sergio Buonocore in Thunder Bay, announcing $13 million for the Fort William Historical Park. The majority of the $13 million will be used for the second access road to the Fort William Historical Park. The remaining funds will be used for site rehabilitation and maintaining heritage structures and remediation and repairs due to recent flooding. MacLeod announced an additional $1 million in funding for local arts and tourism sectors in Thunder Bay.

Getting the tourism industry back on track will be done in three stages, with the first stage focusing on encouraging Ontarians to explore the province. The second stage will focus on 2021, with the province expected to host larger events when crowd sizes are permitted to increase and focus on domestic tourism.

As the province continues to gradually reopen, Ontario’s tourism and hospitality industry is implementing stringent measures to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.

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Tourism is a key economic driver in Ontario, generating over $36 billion in economic activity and supporting more than 400,000 jobs.

In 2017, Northern Ontario attracted 7.4 million domestic and overseas tourist visits, contributing $1.2 billion to the province’s economy.