Simcoe County celebrates World Tourism Day with the relaunch of the “Spark” Mentorships & Grants Program

Simcoe County celebrates World Tourism Day with the relaunch of the “Spark” Mentorships & Grants Program

Simcoe County celebrates World Tourism Day with the relaunch of the “Spark” Mentorships & Grants Program

Midhurst/September 27, 2023 – The County of Simcoe, Regional Tourism Organization 7, and the Tourism Innovation Lab celebrated World Tourism Day on September 27 with the relaunch of a mentorships and grants program designed to “spark” and support entrepreneurs and organizations with innovative tourism ideas for Simcoe County.

The “Spark” Program was first launched in 2018 by the Tourism Innovation Lab and has now been delivered in over 40 regions across Ontario and British Columbia. 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, increase year-round visits.

In 2022, three selected applicants were matched with a mentor and provided $3,000 in seed funds to help them get started with their new tourism ideas. Previous Simcoe County recipients successfully pitched poetry concerts, art experiences, and year-round nature retreats and adventures.

For this second “Spark” Program application intake, organizers are especially interested in tourism ideas that will incorporate, address and advance sustainability, waterways and Indigenous tourism in Simcoe County. Individual entrepreneurs, small businesses, non-profits and community groups are encouraged to apply with their new tourism ideas for Simcoe County by October 26, 2023. Following a juried review process, five finalists will be invited to virtual Pitch Session where three winners will be selected to receive mentorships and grants.

The Simcoe County “Spark” Program is led by the Tourism Innovation Lab in collaboration with Tourism Simcoe County and Regional Tourism Organization 7. For more information and to register for the Info Session on October 11 at 11:30 am to 12:15 pm, visit

“The success of our small businesses is essential to support the future of Simcoe County. The County is pleased to work with our tourism partners again to build up this program in our area. The ‘Spark’ Program is a great way to help our entrepreneurs succeed and encourage new tourism ideas within Simcoe County. I look forward to seeing the creative ideas flow and our tourism sector continue to grow.”
~ Basil Clarke, Warden, County of Simcoe

“We are excited to see Simcoe County launch the second round of the ‘Spark’ program with the Innovation Lab. We’ve seen the benefits to local entrepreneurs in Simcoe County as they launched and grow their ideas. We can’t wait to see what the ideas and experiences are.”
~Bill Sullivan, CEO, RTO7

“After a great response in 2022, we are excited to be launching the second round of the “Spark” Program in Simcoe County. We encourage entrepreneurs, small businesses and organizations across the region to come forward with innovative ideas that will elevate Simcoe County’s tourism offerings and experiences and inspire travel to the region.”
~ Justin Lafontaine, Program Lead, Tourism Innovation Lab

About Tourism Simcoe County
Tourism Simcoe County (TSC) promotes Simcoe County as a four season destination of choice by developing products and experiences and executing comprehensive marketing campaigns across a variety of multimedia platforms. TSC provides tourism leadership throughout Simcoe County by developing the local tourism industry and forging and strengthening community partnerships. TSC is committed to supporting the sustainable growth of the region’s tourism assets, including, but not limited to, Agritourism, Arts, Culture and Heritage Tourism, Indigenous Tourism and Outdoor Recreation.

About Tourism Innovation Lab
The Tourism Innovation Lab is a non-profit initiative created to find, foster and support new tourism ideas, experiences and partnerships, to cultivate and propel collaborations between the tourism and tech sectors, and to build a community of tourism innovators, idea makers and entrepreneurs in Canada. First launched in 2018, the Lab and its "Spark" Mentorships & Grants Program are now offered across Ontario and British Columbia. The Tourism Innovation Lab is a program of Hackforge and is based in Windsor, ON and Squamish, BC.

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Collin Matanowitsch
Manager, Public Relations
County of Simcoe, Service Simcoe Department
705-734-8386 (mobile)

Justin Lafontaine
Program Lead
Tourism Innovation Lab

Kim Clarke
Manager, Stakeholder Relations
Regional Tourism Organization 7

Views, thoughts and opinions expressed in the blog comments section belong solely to the comments' authors and are not necessarily those of Regional Tourism Organization 7 (RTO7), its Board of Directors or its staff.

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