New program aims to “Spark” innovative tourism ideas – grants, mentorships


New program aims to “Spark” innovative tourism ideas for Algoma Country with grants and mentorships

Sault Ste. Marie, ON – A new program aimed at sparking and supporting innovative tourism ideas for Algoma Country was officially announced today. The “Spark” Mentorships & Grants Program will match selected applicants from the region with a tourism mentor and provide a $3,000 grant to help take their new tourism idea to the next level of development.

Innovation in the tourism industry is critical for the region to respond, adapt and recover from the significant impacts and evolving travel landscape as a result of the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.

“Innovation is key to industry competitiveness and success. It is more important now than ever to enable the region’s tourism entrepreneurs, businesses and operators to respond, adapt and recover as a result of the global COVID-19 crisis” said David MacLachlan, Executive Director, Destination Northern Ontario.

The “Spark” Program was first piloted in Windsor-Essex in 2018 by the Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab, and has now been delivered in over 10 regions across the province, including Northeastern Ontario and Northwestern Ontario. Its goal is to find, foster and support new tourism ideas that will enhance current offerings, address gaps or challenges, motivate travel and longer stays, and increase year-round visits.

“Tourism Excellence North is committed to raising the bar on visitor value, tourism experiences and business success” said Karen Peacock, Senior Coordinator, Workforce Development & Industry Training, Destination Northern Ontario/Tourism Excellence North. “Through the “Spark” Mentorships & Grants Program, we will be able to offer expert guidance and a source of financial support to enable new tourism programs, business and industry opportunities in Algoma Country.”

Applications are encouraged from individuals, small businesses and non-profit organizations based in Algoma Country from September 14th to October 19th, 2021. Following a juried review process, finalists will be invited to a virtual Pitch Session where three winners will be selected.

“Sault Ste. Marie is proud to support the Algoma Country Spark program. Through this program, we aim to encourage tourism entrepreneurs to consider developing new experiential, unique and enhanced tourism activities in our community, said Alana Kenopic, Manager, Travel and Tourism, City of Sault Ste. Marie. “Sault Ste. Marie is poised with potential to create new tourism offerings and attract visitors from across the globe to experience the unmatched beauty of Northern Ontario.”

The Algoma “Spark” Program is being led by Destination Northern Ontario (as part of their tourism training program), Tourism Excellence North, and the Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab in collaboration with Algoma Country and Sault Ste. Marie Tourism.

“We are very excited to be launching the “Spark” Program in Algoma Country,” said Justin Lafontaine, Program Lead, Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab. “As we have seen through previous rounds in Northern Ontario, innovative tourism ideas brought forward by entrepreneurs, small businesses and organizations will inspire and elevate the tourism offerings and experiences in the region.”

For more information on the Algoma Country “Spark” Mentorships & Grants Program and application guide go to