/Resources available for tourism businesses 

Resources available for tourism businesses 

By Chad Ingram 

ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is creating tough times for many businesses,
including the tourism-based businesses of the Haliburton Highlands.
businesses are talking like they may have to close their doors
forever,” Haliburton County tourism director Amanda Virtanen told theTimes. “Other businesses are talking about how this is normally the down
season for them anyway.”
The big question on everyone’s mind is
will business be back to normal, at least in some capacity, by the
all-important summer season.  
“It’s going to be tough for the county,” Virtanen said.
On the County of Haliburton’s website – www.halburtoncounty.ca
– a link on the homepage takes visitors to a page dedicated to
resources associated with the COVID-19 outbreak. Among them is a list of
government programs business owners can access including the Canada
Emergency Business Account; the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy; the New
Loan Guarantee; the Businesses Credit Availability Program; and changes
to taxes and benefits.
While some of the county’s culinary
establishments have shut down completely for the time being, some remain
open offering takeout and delivery, as permitted under provincial
regulations. Farm-gate operations and some other set-ups are also
permitted to continue. The county is keeping a database of what local
providers are offering during this time, and any food providers are
encouraged to make sure the county has their information by emailing
Thom Lambert at food.tourism.hh@gmail.com.
county would also like to promote any social distancing or virtual
experiences being offered by experience providers. Anyone with
programming that may fit this bill is asked to email Eric Casper at tourism@myhaliburtonhighlands.
the fishing season approaching, the county will also be creating a new
fishing section on its tourism website and anyone who can help
facilitate fishing activities in a social distancing environment – the
supply of gear, for example – is also asked to email Casper.
county is also launching a new section on its tourism website called
“From a Distance,” which will focus on promoting activities that can be
done while social distancing.
Many business owners are making
difficult decisions during this time. Virtanen noted that the county’s
two largest cottage rental agencies have decided to shut down their
operations for at least a couple of months amid the pandemic, and that
that window may be extended.
“They have decided to do the responsible thing,” she said.
a statement, Nicole Whiting, executive director of the Ontario’s
Highlands Tourism Organization, of which the county is part, said. “This
crisis is unprecedented. The playbook is being written and revised in
real-time against an elusive moving target. Our desire for
predictability to chart a path forward is challenged as the time frame
for our new reality seems to extend on a daily basis. The hardship
facing so many cannot be underestimated and our tourism sector, along
with the communities in our region who rely on the visitor economy, are
going to face extremely difficult times ahead.”
OHTO is keeping a page on its website with COVID-19-related updates for tourism stakeholders that can be found at https://comewander.ca/
is also working on promoting businesses in the region through enhanced
digital marketing and more information about those activities can be
found at https://ohtoinsider.com/2020/
survey conducted by the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario between
March 18 and 23 indicated that, at that time, 52 per cent of tourism
businesses had closed temporarily; 27 per cent were at risk of closing
permanently if shut down for three months; and that 35 per cent of
tourism had laid off staff. Of those businesses, 36 per cent had laid
off all of their staff. The COVID-19 crisis has had a heightened impact
on the tourism since the time the survey was taken.
On April 7,
Virtanen was scheduled to be part of a call with Heritage, Sport,
Tourism and Culture Minister Lisa MacLeod, who was seeking input on the
impact of COVID-19 on tourism stakeholders and destination marketing
organizations throughout the province.