Are you a Black entrepreneur, Black-owned small business or Black-led non-profit or community group, live in Ontario's Southwest, and have a new tourism idea?
If so, we want to hear from you!
Ontario's Southwest Regional Tourism Organization, Southwestern Ontario Black Entrepreneurship Network, Empowerment Squared, WEtech Alliance, Libro Credit Union and the Tourism Innovation Lab have partnered to launch the Ontario's Southwest Black Tourism "Spark" Program.
Whether you are an individual, a start-up or an established small business or non-profit organization, there can be many challenges and barriers to bringing a new tourism idea, experience or partnership to fruition.
We want to help. The Ontario's Southwest Black Tourism "Spark" Program will match selected candidates with a tourism mentor and provide seed funds to help take their new tourism idea to the next level of development.
Our goal is to inspire Black entrepreneurs, Black-owned small businesses, and Black-led non-profit organizations and community groups in Ontario's Southwest to come forward with creative ideas that will generate new tourism offerings and experiences, and help make the tourism sector more accessible, diverse, equitable and inclusive.
The program includes:
Selected applicants will receive:
Be Inspired! Tyneisha Thomas (aka Ty the Poetess) launched spoken word poetry concerts across Simcoe County.
Be inspired! Curveball Creative launched a new projection art experience called "Love Text" in London.
APPLICATION DEADLINE IS NOVEMBER 22, 2023
Register for an Info Session below.
Ontario's Southwest Black Tourism “Spark" Program Application Guide
Who Can Apply?
- Black-owned small businesses are considered those that are majority (51%+) owned & operated by Black individuals.
- Black-led non-profit organizations and community groups that serve, support and celebrate the Black community in Ontario's Southwest.
- Prospective applicants with direct representatives (e.g., owners, Board members) who are participating on the Ontario's Southwest Black Tourism "Spark" Program review jury or pitch session judge panel are not eligible.
What Are We Looking For?
We are looking for new tourism ideas from Ontario's Southwest Black communities that address one or more of the following:
New tourism ideas must be based in and benefit Ontario's Southwest.
What Is A Tourism Idea?
Experiences, products and partnerships that motivate travel to and in your region by people living more than 40km away, across the border or internationally, and provide engagement, participation, purchasing and/or travel related opportunities while they are visiting.
What Do We Mean By New?
Tourism experiences, products, businesses and partnerships that are in the ideation stage, have just been created, are under development, or have been promoted/offered publicly for 6 months or less.
Other Tourism Definitions and Examples
Experiences: Opportunities for visitors to engage, participate, interact, learn and explore in a region to get a local understanding and broader awareness of a destination, often combining different elements (eg. farmers market tour followed by a culinary class led by a local chef).
Products: Buyable goods and services related to tourism in the region (eg. accommodations, attractions, tours, ticketed events, travel packages and other tourism bundles).
Collaborative Partnerships: Two or more businesses/organizations working together to promote and/or deliver a new tourism related experience or product (eg., Metro Zoo + Cycling Group = “Jungle Ride” event).
Sustainable Tourism: Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities. - World Tourism Organization.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Diversity is about our many differences - like skin colour, culture, sexual orientation, family status, ability, etc. Inclusion is a feeling, and comes from actively creating a space where we feel like we are welcome, safe, and that we belong. Equity is about recognizing that our diversity means we all have different needs, and creating experiences with this in mind - so everyone can participate and have access, and feel that sense of inclusion, safety, and belonging when they do. Our goal is for the tourism sector to better reflect diversity, equity and inclusion in terms of who designs experiences, and who enjoys them. - Annemarie Shrouder, DEI Advisor
APPLICATION DEADLINE IS NOVEMBER 22, 2023
“Spark" Program Application
How to Apply?
There are 2 steps to applying to the "Spark" Program:
STEP 1. Complete the online application form
STEP 2. Record and upload a short video (1 minute maximum)
STEP 1. Online Application
The online application form will ask you the following 10 questions. Please submit your answers using the link below. We recommend you draft your responses first in a Word document, and then copy and paste your final answers into the online form.
1. Contact information.
2. Tell us about yourself, your small business or organization.
3a. New tourism idea project title.
3b. Describe your new tourism idea.
4. How is your idea innovative or unique?
5. What stage are you at with your idea?
6. Who are your target market(s) and/or partner(s)?
7. How does your idea advance sustainability efforts in the region?
8. How does your idea support diversity, equity and inclusion?
9. How would you utilize the “Spark” mentorship, seed funds and tech adoption support if selected?
10. What are your desired outcomes and impacts?
STEP 2: Short Video
In addition to providing responses to the application questions, please record and upload a file or link to a 1 minute maximum unedited, unproduced video introducing yourself, your small business, non-profit organization or community group.
Program Info Sessions
Missed the Ontario's Southwest Black Tourism "Spark" Program info sessions? Watch the recording below:
Questions? Please contact:
Justin Lafontaine, Program Lead, Tourism Innovation Lab: firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn more about
Ontario's Southwest Regional Tourism Organization
Southwestern Ontario Black Entrepreneurship Network (SWOBEN)
Tourism Innovation Lab