Lisa MacLeod announces white paper plan to recover tourism sector

Natali Trivuncic
Staff Writer

On Dec 17, Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries held a virtual townnhall to announce the Reconnecting Ontarians: Re-emerging as a Global Leader- A road map for economic and social recovery through Ontario’s Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries white paper.

“Certain sectors and businesses are much more vulnerable to the risk of collapse than others,” MacLeod said. “Nowhere is this risk more evidence than in the heritage sport, tourism and culture industries.”

This white paper is a policy proposal that addresses how to support a broad-based recovery strategy. It centres around multi-year planning that lays out 15 proposals to recover Ontario’s creative industries during and post pandemic.

Some of the proposals included in the plan look at broadening Ontario’s volunteer base, competing for global festivals, events and conferences, skills development/redevelopment in creative, tourism and hospitality industries and travel incentives in 2021 to encourage hyperlocal tourism.

MacLeod called the pandemic a ‘true triple threat’ stating that it is a public health, economic and social crisis rolled into one.

“These vital industries were among the first and hardest hit by the onset of COVID-19, and they’re expected to take the longest to recover,” MacLeod said.

Ontario’s Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries contributes $75 billion in economic activity and hundreds of thousands of jobs across the province which MacLeod said has experienced loses.

MacLeod notes that sporting events, live music, theatre, and festivals are all ‘high touch sectors’ that depend on gatherings of people from Ontario and across the border.

“We must plan for long term renewal driven by the industry and supported by the government designed to restore confidence in the sectors in in the businesses, organizations and people who work in them,” MacLeod said.

MacLeod said this white paper is intended as the beginning of a discussion about how the government, businesses and communities, can work together to recover the heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries.

“We will continue to support opportunities in local communities and focus on the economic and social recovery for all of Ontario. And we will ensure that Ontario safely emerges post-pandemic as a global destination of choice,” MacLeod said.

The white paper looks at the recovery over the span of five years with it beginning over the next 18 months. The successes of the initiatives in the plan will be measured throughout in order to gauge how to continue.