From bees to cheese and boating to bus tours, 55 tourism businesses in the Ottawa and Prescott-Russell region have received funding to help them recover from the pandemic and prepare for future growth, Ottawa Tourism announced Thursday.
The funding is part of the $5.5 million Ottawa Tourism received through the federal Tourism Relief Fund. Amounts received ranged from $25,750 to $100,000.
“As the industry that was first hit, hardest hit, and will be the last to recover from the pandemic, we applaud this federal support and investment in a sector that struggled through this crisis and needs this support in order to recover,” said Ottawa Tourism president and CEO Michael Crockatt in a statement. “The projects that are being funded will certainly enhance Ottawa’s attractiveness as a tourism destination and we look forward to them coming to fruition.”
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In August, local tourism officials told OBJ that, while the industry was recovering, it was “not out of the woods yet,” particularly if federal government workers don’t return to the office soon. Tour groups, conventions and business travellers constitute a significant chunk of tourism-related spending in Ottawa, yet those groups haven’t resumed pre-pandemic levels of activity to the same extent as leisure travellers, officials noted.
“If we’re going to move tourism to the top of the list, we have a lot of work to do,” Steve Ball, president of the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association, told OBJ in September, citing projects such as the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats, the revamp of Lansdowne Park and the revitalization of the ByWard Market as essential to the industry’s recovery.
Thursday’s funding recipients ran the gamut from small local tourist attractions such as Gees Bees Honey Company and St-Albert Cheese; to large events such as the Ottawa Jazz Festival; to well-known attractions and destinations including the Ottawa Art Gallery and the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. Townships, chambers of commerce and local BIAs were also on the list.
One funding recipient was the Bytown Museum, which received $100,000 to support a renewed museum experience. Staff have worked closely with community members from Kitigan Zibi and Pikwakanagan First Nations and will continue to collaborate on key aspects of the project.
“The Bytown Museum is grateful to receive this funding to further enhance and strengthen the museum’s connection with the Indigenous communities of Ottawa and beyond and to undertake key projects to create a welcoming and inclusive space for all,” said Courtney Gehling, the museum’s executive director.
“The tourism sector across our community has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” added Yasir Naqvi, MP for Ottawa Centre. “Local tourism businesses in our capital city need help today to ensure their success tomorrow … ensuring that local jobs will be protected and that Ottawa will remain a vibrant and welcoming destination for tourists from around the world.”