Tourism Innovators Awarded Funding to Make Ideas Come to Life

The 2020 Bruce County Spark Mentorship and Grants Program encouraged innovative and sustainable tourism ideas for the Bruce Peninsula, awarding three finalists a $3,000 grant and a tourism mentorship to help take their new tourism ideas to the next level of development.

The goal of the program is to inspire Bruce County entrepreneurs to find, foster, and support new sustainable tourism ideas that will:

• Enhance current offerings and create high-quality, low impact tourism experiences
• Address gaps in tourism products and services, and motivate longer stays and repeat visits
• Disperse visitation geographically, and increase shoulder season visits and tourism spending

The 2020 Bruce County Spark Program winners are:

• Imran Khan and Shazad Ahmad, Seahawk Watersports — Transparent Kayaks
• Melony McLay and Serge Marcella, Tamarac Island Inn — Year-Round Retreats
• Natasha Akiwenzie and Victoria Serda, Bagida’waad Alliance — Indigenous Experiences

Ten applications were submitted, and the top six applicants presented their new tourism idea at a virtual Finalists’ Pitch Session held on December 1st. A judge panel of partner representatives and a tourism entrepreneur from outside the region selected the three winning applicants.

“We congratulate the three winners of the Bruce County Spark Program,” says Justin Lafontaine, Program Lead for the Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab. “Each brought forward and successfully pitched new sustainable tourism ideas that will benefit the Bruce Peninsula.”

“Bruce County’s entrepreneurs are innovative and inventive, and I have no doubt that the winners will bring new value to our local tourism economy,” says Jill Roote, Manager of Economic Development at the County of Bruce. “We’re excited to see how their ideas come to life to foster sustainable tourism on the peninsula.”

The Bruce County Spark Program is a partnership between the Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab, Bruce County, Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula, Town of South Bruce Peninsula, and Bruce Grey Simcoe (Regional Tourism Organization 7), and is one of seven regions in the province to offer the program this year.

In addition to a source of funds and mentorship, selected applicants gain access to a network of tourism innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders, and receive a guide outlining other resources and support services provided by partners.