Do you have a new tourism idea for Simcoe County? If so, we want to hear from you!
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 "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 entrepreneurs, small businesses, non-profit organizations and community groups based in Simcoe County to come forward with creative ideas that will generate new tourism opportunities, offerings, experiences and partnerships in the region.
The program includes:
Call out for applications from individuals, small businesses, non-profits and community groups
Application reviews by a jury including local and provincial tourism innovators and leaders
Finalists' Pitch Sessions (our friendly take on a tourism Dragon's Den):
Save the date: Tuesday, November 28 @ 4:00-6:15pm (virtual)
Selection of 3 winning applicants
Selected applicants will receive:
3 month mentorship with a tourism innovator, experienced operator, industry leader and/or sector expert
$3,000 in seed funds to support tourism idea development activities
Access to a support network of tourism innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders
Ongoing guidance on other resources and support services provided by partners
All program applicants will be invited to join our "Spark" community of tourism innovators, partners and supporters for special networking events, one-on-one's, and development workshops.
Be Inspired! Lavender Fox developed and launched year-round nature retreats and experiences in Simcoe County.
Be Inspired! Tyneisha Thomas (aka Ty the Poetess) organized and launched poetry concerts across Simcoe County.
APPLICATION DEADLINE IS OCTOBER 26, 2023 Register for an Info Session below.
Simcoe County “Spark" Application Guide
Who Can Apply?
Individuals 18+ who live in Simcoe County(including part-time residents)
Small businesses based in Simcoe Countyor those based outside but have operations in Simcoe County (up to 10 full-time year round employees)
Non-profit organizations and community groups based in Simcoe County(up to 10 full-time year round employees)
Note: - Those based in the City of Barrie and the City of Orillia are eligible to apply with ideas that will be primarily based in and benefit Simcoe County. - Past Simcoe County "Spark" Program winners are not eligible to apply.
Simcoe County Map
What Are We Looking For? We are looking for new tourism ideas that address one or more of the following:
Enhance current tourism offerings
Create new, high-quality tourism experiences
Address gaps in tourism products and services
Motivate travel, longer stays and repeat visits
Increase year-round visitation and tourism spending
Tourism ideas must be based in and benefit Simcoe County. While there are no specific categories, we are especially interested in ideas that incorporate, address and advance sustainability, waterway activation, and Indigenous tourism in the region.
What Is A Tourism Idea? Experiences, products and partnerships that motivate travel to your region by people living more than 40km away, across the provincial 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 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
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 and seed funds if selected? 10. What are your desired outcomes and impacts?
STEP 2: Short Video In addition to providing responses to the application form 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.
Interested in applying to the Simcoe County "Spark" Program? Register for this online Info Session to learn more about the program, what we are looking for, and how to apply: Wednesday, October 11 @ 11:30am-12:15pm- REGISTER
Central Canada Home Base Tourism Innovation Lab c/o Hackforge 300 Ouellette Ave, Suite 210, Windsor, ON N9A 7B4 email@example.com 1-844-455-0325 x 1 (toll-free)
Western Canada Home Base Tourism Innovation Lab c/o The Common 38016 Cleveland Ave, Squamish, BC V8B 0A1 firstname.lastname@example.org 1-844-455-0325 x 2 (toll-free)
We respectfully acknowledge that our home base in Windsor-Essex sits on the traditional territory of the Three Fires Confederacy of First Nations, which is comprised of the Ojibwa, the Odawa, and the Potawatomi Peoples. We also respectfully acknowledge that our home base in Squamish sits on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples: Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam First Nations. We will honour this by collaborating with Indigenous-led organizations and businesses to support the advancement of Indigenous tourism in those regions and across Canada.