On July 12, the Government of Canada announced the launch of the Tourism Relief Fund, which will provide $500 million in funding, over two years, for the hard-hit tourism sector. This funding adds to the more than $15 billion dollars in direct support provided to the tourism industry from the federal government since the pandemic started 

“Our government has been there for the tourism sector since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis and today’s announcement is about adding another tool to the suite of COVID supports that will help it recover and prepare for future growth and create jobs," said The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages. "This is an important step in our recovery efforts to attract visitors from all over the world so they can discover our country’s extraordinary wild natural beauty, delicious food and rich cultural experiences and incredibly warm hospitality once it is safe to do so.”

The new fund will be administered by regional development agencies across Canada and Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED). From the $500 million in funding, $50 million will be designated to support Indigenous tourism businesses and $15 million will be administered by ISED to "support the advancement of national tourism priorities aligned with Canada’s Federal Tourism Growth Strategy, such as destination development, seasonal and geographic dispersion, and human resources and skills development."

Information from the Application Guide

To be eligible for funding tourism businesses (primarily small- and medium-sized enterprises), non-profit organizations (including tourism associations and destination marketing organizations), and Indigenous/First Nations/Métis owned businesses and organizations must fall under one or more of the three parameters outlined in the application guide:

  1. A key supplier/operator in the visitor experience.
  2. Part of a defined tourism cluster or tourism-dependent community.
  3. An anchor product or service in a destination. 

Eligible for-profit businesses can access the following funding:

  • non-repayable contributions under $100,000 (rate of assistance of 50 % of eligible costs), or
  • fully repayable contributions up to $500,000 (rate of assistance of 75 % of eligible costs).

For non-profit organizations and Indigenous entities, the contributions will normally be non-repayable and will not normally exceed $500,000. 

Eligible projects must 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.

Examples of project activities can be found in the application guide

Eligible Western Canadian businesses and organizations can now apply for the fund through Western Economic Diversification Canada.

More information on the announcement and the fund can be found in the Government of Canada press release