Tourism organizations in Prescott-Russell, Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry, and Cornwall will be receiving grants totaling in excess of $350,000 from the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario to support economic recovery efforts in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prescott-Russell Tourism will receive a grant of $100,112.50 in funding, while SDG Tourism will receive $78,364 and Cornwall Tourism $180,142. The funding is part of a $30-million Regional Relief and Recovery Fund provided by FedDev Ontario to support tourism marketing organizations which have experienced declines in revenue since the beginning of the pandemic. In addition to financial relief, the money is intended to support marketing efforts to encourage visitor and economic activity as Ontario’s economy reopens.

Prescott-Russell Tourism President Audrey Lizotte said the money received from the grants will largely go towards advertising and promotional activities within the United Counties.

“Usually we would do a lot of promotion on the Montreal side, but a lot of the promotion (this year) will probably be in the Ottawa region,” Lizotte said, observing that Ottawa has been less hard-hit by the pandemic than the Montreal area. “Local people within our region are going to be our biggest target for sure, because we want to make sure that people who live in Prescott-Russell are willing and happy to receive people (from outside the region).”

Lizotte noted the grants have just been announced and as yet the county has not come up with a specific plan to direct the funds, but she expects one will be completed within the next few weeks. She anticipates that a good portion of the money will be aimed at promoting the region through advertising in local media, including newspapers, radio and online.

“A lot of the promotion will probably be around Ottawa, the Prescott-Russell area and locally – this is a good time for people to tour within the area.”

In Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry, plans for the grant money include distribution of the local tourism guide, as well as hiring summer students as tourism cycling ambassadors to tour throughout the region.

“Right now the biggest thing we are working on is to get our Discover Guide into every household in SDG, so we are working on a mailing plan,” said Karina Belanger, Tourism Coordinator with the United Counties of SDG. “We have also hired two students, so we will have them as tourism cycling ambassadors. They will be going on the bike paths and will set up in different spots and different villages across SDG with the Discover Guides on hand and will be able to answer any questions visitors may have.”

SDG Tourism is also looking at other strategies for the funds and Belanger noted the organization will be targeting local tourism for the remainder of the year.

“(The pandemic) had definitely been a curve-ball, so we are working on different strategies which really will be focusing on a ‘Stay-cation’ and local for now. It will just be getting people to explore their own back yards. We’re really happy with the Guide and how it turned out and there are so many great things that people can explore that are local and you may not have heard of, so I think that will be our focus.”

In Prescott-Russell, The Review pioneers the local Visitor Guide, working with Tourisme Prescott-Russell Tourism and it, too, is being delivered across the region — including Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec — after being released earlier this year as a digital publication.

Customer ads for the Visitor Guide were revised at that time and revised again prior to printing last week. Local copies are available at locations across the region and delivery is underway this week. To obtain copies for your shop or destination, email: [email protected]