Kingston & Gananoque Launch a Tourism Business COVID-19 Re-Opening Support Program

Town News

A program that supports COVID-19 re-opening and recovery expenses.

Kingston, Ontario, September 21, 2020 —  Kingston and 1000 Islands’ tourism industry are fundamental to the region and a major contributor to the economy. Every year, thousands of travellers visit the area to enjoy what it has to offer from its natural beauty to historical charm. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe economic impact on businesses and organizations across the region, especially the ones that rely on travel and tourism.

The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for FedDev Ontario, announced a total non-repayable FedDev Ontario investment of $2.55 million to support the tourism industry and LGBTQ2+Pride tourism across the region.

Kingston Economic Development Corporation will receive a contribution of $1 million and will deliver the fund in partnership with the Town of Gananoque. This fund will offer contributions of up to $2,400 to local tourism-oriented businesses with up to five full-time employees, and up to $4,800 for businesses with more than five full-time employees. The project is expected to support 100 businesses and maintain at least 200 jobs.

“We have an incredibly vibrant tourism industry that has been hit especially hard by the pandemic and continues to face significant challenges. This investment will go a long way to help businesses not only meet these challenges but adapt in a way that will make them even stronger in the long-term,” said Bryan Paterson, Mayor of the City of Kingston.

The program is designed to ease the financial pressure experienced by businesses to allow them to continue their operations. Businesses may use the money for expenses incurred for personal protective equipment, renovated their space to adhere to health guidelines, transitioned to a virtual workforce or launched e-commerce platforms.

The intention of this program is to support the hardest hit tourism sector, foster economic recovery and position Kingston to be able to pivot and respond quickly to a potential second wave and future emergency situations.

“We are pleased for see the Federal Government recognize the severe impact COVID-19 has had on Kingston’s tourism sector, which generates an economic impact of $500+ million annually to the city,” said Megan Knott, Executive Director of Tourism Kingston.

“Kingston’s business community has shown a lot of resiliency and we are grateful for their ongoing efforts. We recognized that most of the COVID relief programs were loan based and wanted to provide non-repayable financial support to assist with the costs required to pivot their business to align with public health restrictions,” said Shelley Hirstwood, Business Development Officer, Attraction and Aftercare at Kingston Economic Development Corporation.

In partnership with the Town of Gananoque, Kingston Economic Development is offering non-repayable loans in the amount of 80% of eligible expenses (with a 20% contribution from businesses) are available. The fund can go towards expenses incurred from June 2020. “We are grateful for the critical support during those unprecedented times. Gananoque’s businesses have been hit hard due to the decline in the tourism industry. This funding will provide tremendous support for those who are struggling to remain open,” said Ted Lojko, Mayor, Town of Gananoque.

Eligible COVID-Recovery improvements will include, but are not limited to implementation of health and safety protocols, alterations to accommodate social distancing, purchase of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies for employees, and implementation of digital tools and transformation for tourism operators. 

Applications will open September 28. Learn more about the program and eligibility criteria, visit

Amanda Trafford
Business Development Coordinator
P: 613-382-2149 x 1125