FedNor boosts tourism

·2 min read

THUNDER BAY, ONT. — An investment of $8,750,385 from the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario (FedNor) is geared to help tourism businesses emerge from the pandemic to welcome back visitors.

Paul Pepe, manager of Tourism Thunder Bay, says a number of the successful applications for the funding through FedNor’s tourism relief fund were from the Thunder Bay area.

“Some of that was released funding to allow the businesses to adjust their operations to the changing times, especially those that were reliant on international markets,” he said.

“Thunder Bay received $500,000 of the tourism funding which went to the Pool Six cruise ship dock, so it was a federal contribution to the capital upgrades to the dock to be able to host the Viking Octantis and the Ocean Navigator this year.”

Pepe explained that the total project proposal for Pool Six was $2.5 million. Of that, $1.2 million was previously announced by the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp., $500,000 came from this FedNor investment and the balance came from the City of Thunder Bay.

“It was a well-leveraged tourism investment for the community to diversify our tourism infrastructure,” Pepe said.

MP Patty Hajdu, minister of Indigenous Services and minister responsible for FedNor, made the FedNor announcement this week and says the money will help protect, strengthen and grow Northern Ontario’s tourism sector.

The sector was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in Northern Ontario.

“Tourism is really interconnected with Northern Ontario and there are a lot of small and medium-sized businesses that have really struggled over the last two or three years, in particular with COVID and the changing rules and regulations around COVID,” Hajdu said.

“People come into the region for hunting, for fishing or hiking, camping and wilderness opportunities, so a lot of the companies that were selected to receive that support are companies that are really trying to reinvigorate tourism in Northern Ontario, which manifests all of us.”

Hajdu says if they could get a number of businesses through the pandemic without large numbers of business closures, it would be better in the long run for the economy.

“We chose to pick up the cost, at the federal level, so that small and medium-sized businesses could stay afloat and so that our economy would be able to rebound that much more quickly,” she said.

“We have a lower unemployment rate than we did before the pandemic, so the strategy around keeping businesses afloat and then supporting people to retain employees has really been a good one in terms of recovering from the economic shock of COVID-19.”

About $50 million from a total budget of $500 million over three years was specifically dedicated to Indigenous tourism initiatives.

Investments from the federal government’s tourism relief fund support 58 tourism projects in municipalities and Indigenous communities across the region.

Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal

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