Tourism Growth Program – Driving economic, environmental, and cultural sustainability (Canada)
Tourism Growth Program – Driving economic, environmental, and cultural sustainability (Canada)

By: Stephanie Cesar, Grants Development Consultant, Canada

To attract visitors and see the number of tourists increase to pre-COVID levels, the Canadian government has decided to act. One of the initiatives implemented is the Tourism Growth Program. This ambitious program aims to boost the dynamism of the country’s tourism sector and launch its potential as a key driver of economic prosperity and job creation. Canada’s regional development agencies[1] will deliver this program as they have the mandate to promote regional economic development across all regions of Canada.

The program is designed to capitalize on Canada's unique assets and attract domestic and international visitors. The program aims to position Canada as a leading global tourism destination known for its magnificent natural wonders, cultural experiences, and outstanding hospitality.

Some of the program's objectives are:

  • Encourage regional economics: Increase tourism spin-offs in communities by drawing visitors more to the regions, including rural communities. As a result, major festivals and events that already attract clients are not eligible.
  • Cultural development: Emphasize the importance of Canada's cultural diversity by encouraging initiatives that highlight and preserve Indigenous cultures, local traditions, and artistic expressions as principal tourist attractions. Approximately 15% of the Tourism Growth Program is dedicated to Indigenous tourism initiatives.
  • Sustainability: One of the foundations of the program is its commitment to sustainable tourism practices. Efforts are aimed at reducing environmental impact, protecting natural resources, and promoting environmentally friendly tourism initiatives. Develop more active tourism activities such as rock climbing, hiking, alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, and nautical and water sports.
  • Tourism all year round: Promote Canada as an all-year-round destination by showcasing products, services, and experiences that could increase tourist activity beyond the traditional peak season and extend services throughout the year.

In Budget 2023, the government announced the creation of the Tourism Growth Program. This fund will invest up to $108 million over 3 years to support communities, small and medium-sized businesses, and non-profit organizations to develop tourism projects and events. The maximum contribution amount per recipient will be up to $250,000. Funds will typically be repayable for businesses and non-repayable for not-for-profit organizations. Canada’s regional development agencies will accept applications on an ongoing basis. If tourism is not the main focus of the business or organization, they are not eligible under the Tourism Growth Program. As a result, restaurants or food services, hotel chains, the retail sector, and travel agencies are not eligible to apply for this funding opportunity.

The Tourism Growth Program intends to contribute significantly to Canada's GDP by increasing tourism-related revenue and creating employment opportunities across the country. The halt in tourism during the pandemic exacerbated many labor problems in the tourism sector, including pushing many employees towards other opportunities, exacerbating the gap that already existed. With multiple programs in place, including The Tourism Growth Program, the government hopes to rebuild the workforce.

The Tourism Growth Program demonstrates Canada's commitment to promoting a thriving and sustainable tourism industry. By combining strategic planning, community engagement, and a commitment to preserving the country's natural and cultural treasures, the program maps a course for a future in which Canada's tourism sector becomes a source of economic growth and global admiration.

To apply and learn more about the program, reach out to your development agency: