Tourism industry at critical crossroads  

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A comprehensive survey of Ontario’s Tourism industry by the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario  (TIAO) has revealed that COVID-19 is having a destructive and immediate effect on businesses across the province.

Conducted between the 18th and 23rd March, with 3,457 responses, businesses detailed to TIAO the extreme measures already being taken across the province.

Over a third (35%) of businesses have already made large-scale layoffs of their staff, some layoffs totaling more than 75% of their entire work force and over a quarter (27.5%) of businesses that have maintained their staff have reduced hours.

Over half (51.81%) of businesses have already temporarily closed, a third  (34.83%) have reduced hours whilst 1.25% have already made the decision to permanently close.

To counter the crisis, businesses are calling for a package of special measures that if implemented urgently, could support businesses in the short term.

That package should include government taxes, due and financial demands to be waived for the next 12 months, starting immediately. Financial supports to retain laid off employees, wage subsidies for employees with reduced hours and access to interest free and bridging loans for businesses to survive the impacts of COVID-19.

“What we are hearing from the front-line is a story of large scale layoffs and temporary and permanent closures with worse on the way if help doesn’t arrive urgently.  That support needs to include a waiving of government tax and demands, immediate and substantial wage support and interest free credit.” Beth Potter, President and CEO of TIAO said , In light of the government’s decision today to widen the ‘state of emergency’ in Ontario to close non-essential workplaces, including many of the businesses we represent, the need for support has gone from urgent to critical.

Tourism represents 391,000 jobs, 188,000 businesses and $5bn in tax receipts in our province.  If we don’t get the critical support needed to the front-line, thousands of businesses will close, tens of thousands of jobs will be lost and one of the most dynamic parts of our provinces economy will be lost.”