Windsor, ON – Founding Partners Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation and Libro Credit Union officially announced the Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab at the St. Clair Centre for the Arts today.
This new tourism incubator is being launched with a pilot in Windsor Essex, Ontario, in 2018, and then will be expanded to other regions in the province next year. Its goal is to find, foster and support new tourism ideas, experiences and collaborative partnerships that will enhance the region’s current offerings, motivate travel and increase visits.
“The positive response from our partners and supporters has inspired us”, said Justin Lafontaine, Project Lead for the Windsor Essex Pilot. “Through those networks, we are looking forward to receiving applications from all corners of our region and our diverse communities.”
The Lab’s “Spark” Program will match selected participants with a tourism industry mentor and provide a $3,000 grant to help take their idea to the next level of development or implementation.
“We are proud to be the first region in Ontario and a Founding Partner for this initiative, leading tourism innovation in the province and showcasing what we have to offer and where we can take you” said Gordon Orr, CEO of Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island.
Participants will also gain access to a network of tourism innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders, and receive a guide outlining other resources and support services provided by their partners. This is the first program of its kind for tourism development in the province.
Applications from individuals, small businesses and non-profit organizations based in the City of Windsor and/or the County of Essex will be accepted from June 12 to August 1, 2018. After a review process, the top applicants will be invited to a Pitch Session in October where the 2018 program participants will be selected.
“Providing tourism mentors and a source of start-up financial support is critical to nurturing innovators and ideas that will grow tourism and economic prosperity in the region” said Lori Atkinson, Regional Manager, Essex Kent and Coach, Libro Credit Union.
The initiative is being led by Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, with support from a broad range of partners including Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation, Libro Credit Union, VIA Rail Canada, Pelee Island Winery, University of Windsor EPICentre, Caesars Windsor, Vistaprint, and over 20 community organizations and businesses representing the diversity of the Windsor Essex region.
For more information visit www.tourisminnovation.ca.