Barrett highlights importance of tourism industry


Oct. 1, 2020 

QUEEN’S PARK – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett highlighted the importance of the tourism industry and how the government is assisting it – including investments in Haldimand and Norfolk – during Question Period in the Ontario Legislature, Monday. 

Barrett started by saying how 2020 has been hard on the tourism industry, how it was the first industry hit and expected to be the last to recover, before asking Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Lisa MacLeod what the government has done to assist. 

Noting the day before was World Tourism Day, MacLeod said the $75-billion tourism industry lost $20 billion in four months and the government is taking the issue seriously. 

In his supplementary question, Barrett mentioned how he met MacLeod at Her Majesty’s Royal Chapel of the Mohawks during her tour of rural parts of the province during the summer. He stressed the safety protocols tourist attractions have put in place during COVID to enhance safety.  

“We invested over $600,000 in Celebrate Ontario funding for 14 different festivals in the southwestern region, including $27,000 to the Norfolk County Fair and $15,000 for the Hagersville music festival,” MacLeod said. “We recognize that those festivals couldn’t continue on, but we want to make sure their position next year, when we finally get out of COVID-19, is that they’re there.” 


For more information, contact Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett at 519-428-0446 or [email protected] 

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Sept. 25, 2020 


Mr. Toby Barrett: To the Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries: Yesterday, September 27, marked World Tourism Day. It was created by the United Nations World Tourism Organization to foster awareness of tourism’s social, cultural, political and economic value. 

Minister, it would be an understatement to say that 2020 has been a tough year for tourism here in Ontario—anywhere in the world, really. We’ve heard you say time and time again that no other Ontario industry has been hit harder. The sectors you represent were hit first, hardest and are expected to take the longest to recover. 

Minister, you have been a strong and vocal champion for this sector long before the pandemic hit. Tourism is a key economic driver. How is our government supporting this sector during these trying times? 

Hon. Lisa MacLeod: I’d like to say thank you to my colleague the member for Haldimand–Norfolk for his steadfast support of these sectors within his constituency. Many members may not know that he’s a bit of a historian himself. I had the opportunity to spend some time with him, as well as the member from Brantford–Brant, over the summer to visit their constituencies and, in particular, to take in Indigenous tourism in their community and visit Her Majesty’s Royal Chapel of the Mohawks. It was quite touching. 

This year, World Tourism Day obviously has a different context, as we recognize Ontario is dealing with about 700 cases of COVID-19 and these industries have been impacted. The member opposite for Scarborough–Guildwood just made a joke about the Premier touring the province; it’s the Premier’s job—all of our jobs—to reconnect Ontarians and ensure that they have confidence in our small and local businesses. When she said when I got a question today that this was not serious business—this is a $75-billion suite of sectors that lost $20 billion in four months. That’s serious business, these are serious sectors, and this year— 

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you. 

The supplementary question. 

Mr. Toby Barrett: Thank you, Minister, for your commitment to the tourism industry during these troubling times. This year’s World Tourism Day has been designated as the year of tourism and rural development, to promote the potential to create jobs and opportunities in our rural areas. Rural Ontario is a place where it’s easy to find some solitude, to keep your distance, to reconnect with nature and to clear your mind. The best part is that it’s right in our own backyard. 

Minister, you mentioned your tour of rural Ontario. That was a wonderful day at the Mohawk chapel. You were able to see first-hand not only some of the best attractions, but also to observe the strenuous safety standards that the tourism businesses have been adhering to. My question: Can you tell us about your experience visiting rural Ontario and explain what this government is doing to support the industry across the province? 

Hon. Lisa MacLeod: I had the opportunity over the summer to announce over $14.2 million in hyper-local marketing to encourage Ontarians to safely reconnect with their loved ones, their neighbours and their community, and to find out what was in their own backyard. We were able to do that, particularly in your area and many parts of rural Ontario that did have an opportunity to salvage some of these rural jobs over the summer because of increased tourism during that period of time. 

We invested over $600,000 in Celebrate Ontario funding for 14 different festivals in the southwestern region, including $27,000 to the Norfolk county fair and $15,000 for the Hagersville music festival. We recognize that those festivals couldn’t continue on, but we want to make sure their position next year, when we finally get out of COVID-19, is that they’re there. 

The other thing that we’ve done is made significant investments into LGBTQ+ tourism and the Culinary Tourism Alliance to support local, as well as $100,000 into Indigenous tourism. I’m looking forward to the Minister of Francophone Affairs joining me in Ottawa so we can make further announcements for arts and cultural funding for the francophone community.