|Written By: Roger Liddle||Originally Published in the November/December 1996
issue of The Outfitter Magazine.
As chair of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation’s Tourism Subcommittee, I wanted to take this opportunity to bring you up to date on what has been happening with the NOHFC, and the new criteria and guidelines.
As you may be aware, Premier Mike Harris announced in Timmins on October 18th that the provincial Cabinet had approved the new program criteria and guidelines developed by the NOHFC. The new mandate is to invest more than $210 million over the next four years into the northern Economy.
Over the summer, subcommittees focused on the new components of the Fund and program criteria was finalized in September. The Fund has been refocused toward the support of infrastructure improvements and development opportunities in Northern Ontario rather than providing direct financial assistance to individual businesses.
Under a new Board of Directors, the NOHFC has developed guidelines that ensure money is being spent more wisely than ever before. Money will be directed into three areas — infrastructure, tourism and strategic partnerships — that will give the North greater opportunities to grow, creating real jobs and real economic development.
The next meeting of the whole NOHFC Board will take place on November 8th in Thunder Bay. At this meeting the Board will be in a position to entertain proposals for consideration and financial assistance.
I will focus my comments here to the Tourism sector. Full information on all three sectors will be available in the very near future, and will be made available through your local Economic Development offices, or directly from the NOHFC office.
The NOHFC will provide funds and opportunities to expand the economic and employment benefits of the residents of Northern Ontario and significantly increase tourism economic activity in the North.
To expand the opportunities and benefits derived from tourism by attracting new tourists to the North, increasing their length of stay and encouraging their return visit.
To enhance Northern Ontario’s tourism product by:
Encouraging the development of major destination and regional attractions which reflect the way northerners live and work; and
Fostering of northern marketing strategies in support of the North’s attractions, traditional and emerging tourism products as well as other regional and community based tourism marketing initiatives which demonstrate growth potential.
To support a repositioning of the North’s tourism product through strategic investment.
To leverage significant financial resources and complimentary development opportunities.
To encourage and increase public, private and not-for-profit sector linkages and partnerships both as a direct part of NOHFC assistance as well as from subsequent spin-offs.
Major Destination Attractions Capital Assistance
Major Destination Attractions are defined as having sufficient critical mass and tourism appeal to be capable of generating or attracting tourism traffic into Northern Ontario.
Types of assistance available from the NOHFC include conditional contributions, forgivable performance loans, incentive term loans and loan guarantees.
Capital costs in the range of $20 million to $30 million per project are anticipated. Preference may be given to those attractions which build upon themes which reflect the North’s cultural heritage; transportation industry, aboriginal and settlement history; and natural resource heritage including wilderness.
It is intended that six destination attractions begin development over the next three years, distributed throughout the North’s six Ontario Travel Areas.
Regional Attractions Capital Assistance
Regional attractions are defined as having the capability, when marketed in combination with other attractions, of creating a higher level of tourism appeal within a region. By establishing smaller, less costly attractions packaged in groups, it becomes possible to market a region to destination oriented audiences.
Capital costs in the order of $1 million to $2 million per project are anticipated. The NOHFC’s intention is to provide an equitable opportunity and challenge to develop regional attractions in each of the North’s Ontario Travel Areas over the next three years.
Tourism Marketing Assistance
Marketing assistance in support of the attractions development programming and also for regional marketing initiatives has been approved as part of the new NOHFC mandate. Project marketing assistance in the order of $10,000 to $100,000 in NOHFC contribution is envisioned. Assuming NOHFC funding of up to 50% of approved marketing costs, the net result will be a leveraged investment amount of at least an additional 50%. Eligible costs include attendance at travel and trade shows, creative, print and electronic media, audio-visual support material, direct marketing initiatives, cooperative media ventures and public relations, internet communications, and domestic and foreign travel trade initiatives.
Administrative expenses to cover the cost of ongoing operations is not an eligible expense.
Eligible clients under the marketing component include existing and new NOHFC assisted attractions, the six Northern Ontario travel Area organizations, regional and local not-for-profit tourism associations and municipalities.
Tourism Research and Opportunities Identification Assistance
Assistance may be provided for identifying development opportunities consistent with the Corporation’s objectives and mandate to develop Destination and Regional Attractions across Northern Ontario. Assistance may also be provided in support of applied and practical sectoral research projects which contribute to the overall objectives of the Tourism Program.
Eligible clients include existing publicly owned attractions, regional and local not-for-profit tourism associations and municipalities.