WATERLOO, Ont. — Explore Waterloo Region and RTO 4 have distributed nearly $600,000 in 2020 and 2021 through the Tourism Adaptation and Recovery Program (TARP) to help its tourism businesses combat COVID-19 challenges. The funding supported 125 attractions, hotels and other tourism operators to offset the costs of implementing health-and-safety protocols required to keep both patrons and staff safe.
Specifically, small businesses (up to 10 employees) were eligible for $3,000, medium-sized businesses (11 to 50 employees) were eligible for $5,000 and large businesses (more than 50 employees) were eligible for up to $20,000. This funding supported the purchase and installation of 64 patios, 32 Plexiglas partitions, 32 packages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitation supplies, 22 heaters, 17 signs, 11 indoor modifications, six outdoor upgrades, three pickup windows and three technology solutions. These health measures were implemented at 75 culinary establishments, 19 attractions, 13 accommodations, 10 breweries, two festivals and events and six other arts and culture-related ventures.
“The pandemic has been devastating in the tourism sector,” says Michele Saran, CEO of Explore Waterloo Region. “Lockdowns and capacity restrictions have either greatly reduced the number of people enjoying Waterloo Region’s tourism attractions or caused them to shut down entirely. Any little bit that can be provided to help them offset increased costs and declining revenues is most welcome.”
TARP was funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), the Region of Waterloo, Explore Waterloo Region and RTO 4, with support from local municipalities including the cities of Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo and the townships of Woolwich, North Dumfries, Wilmot and Wellesley, Ont.