KINGSTON — The local tourism agency is to apply for a share of $30 million in federal funding announced on the weekend.
On Sunday, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages Melanie Joly announced $30 million would be made available to help tourism agencies with local and regional marketing efforts.
The money was originally earmarked for attracting foreign visitors through the federal tourism marketing agency Destination Canada, but the international travel restrictions due to COVID-19 means tourism agencies are instead to encourage Canadians to vacation locally.
“Tourism Kingston will apply for these funds on June 5 — the first day the application opens alongside Kingston Accommodation Partners,” Megan Knott, executive director of Tourism Kingston, said.
The results of the application will hopefully be known by early July.
The $30 million is part of a broader $213-million FedDev Ontario fund for small and medium-sized businesses in southern Ontario and is to be allocated through the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario.
“These funds will be used to support marketing and sales efforts of Tourism Kingston’s recovery plan in the next 12 to 24 months,” Knott added. “COVID will have long-term impact on the Municipal Accommodation Tax, so we will need to be vigilant on spending the dollars.”
The Municipal Accommodation Tax is a four per cent tax added to the cost of hotel, motel and other accommodation stays in the city.
That tax revenue, about $2.5 million a year, along with about $1.4 million in city funding in 2020, makes up the bulk of Tourism Kingston’s annual budget.
“We projected a combined revenue of $2.5 to Tourism Kingston in 2020 and lost $1.2 million when COVID hit, due to stoppage of MAT through hotel collection,” Knott explained.
“We will lay all of this out in our application to TIAO.”
Some larger municipalities, including Toronto and Ottawa, have already announced how much of the $30 million they expect to receive.
Knott said she did not want to speculate about how much Kingston would receive.
How much Tourism Kingston is to receive has not been determined, but a spokeperson with Joly’s office confirmed that it would receive some help.
“That said, I can confirm that Visit Kingston and the Kingston Economic Development Corporation will be receiving funds,” Cohen wrote.
“In the wider region, Tourism 1000 Islands, the Brockville Chamber of Commerce, Gananoque Tourism, Hastings County Tourism, Belleville Tourism, Bay of Quinte Tourism and Visit Prince Edward County will also be receiving them.”
The money is to be used to cover up to 50 per cent of the organization’s operating expenses, he said.
In early April, Kingston city council approved Tourism Kingston’s plan to reallocate up to $700,000 of its reserve funds to a recovery plan.
According to Tourism Kingston, about nine per cent of the city’s workforce is in the food and accommodation sectors.
The Kingston Economic Development Corporation also committed the lion’s share of its corporate reserves — $500,000 — to economic plans to help local businesses survive.
In April, the Conference Board of Canada ranked Kingston as the fourth most vulnerable city in the country to the economic effects of the pandemic, with almost a quarter of the city’s workforce in sectors considered highly vulnerable, including the tourism, restaurant and accommodation sectors.