APPLICANT ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
1. What is a “visitor-facing, tourism-oriented business”?
A: For the purposes of this program, a “visitor-facing, tourism-oriented business” is defined as one whose experiences, products and services are targeted primarily towards visitors and tourists, or locals interested in exploring or experiencing their region.
2. How do I become a member of Ottawa Tourism?
A: Click here to learn how an Ottawa Tourism membership can benefit your business. Please note that membership with Ottawa Tourism is application based and requires approval by our Membership Committee and Board of Directors. This process can take upwards of 8-10 weeks.
3. Do I have to be a member of one of these organizations to apply?
A: TRIP has been made possible through partner funding. Due to limited available funds, our funding agreement, and the tourism sector-specific nature of this program, TRIP funding is open to all Applicants with priority to be given to members of Ottawa Tourism and Tourism Prescott Russell who fall within the following boundaries:
- Ottawa Francophone businesses (ie. Businesses with 50% or more francophone ownership that offer bilingual services) – City of Ottawa Wards 1 through 23
- Ottawa Non-francophone businesses – All City of Ottawa Wards, excluding Somerset, Rideau-Vanier and Capital
- United Counties of Prescott-Russell (refer to the following listing to assist you in determining your municipality)
4. I don’t know if I am a francophone business – what is the definition?
A: For the purpose of TRIP, a francophone business has a least 50% francophone ownership (this means that 50% of the ownership of the business speaks French as a first language), provides francophone services to customers, and serves a francophone market.
5. My tourism business lies outside of the funding boundary. Am I still eligible to apply to TRIP?
A: TRIP has been made possible through partner funding. Due to limited available funds, our funding agreement, and the tourism sector-specific nature of this program, TRIP funding is currently restricted to Applicants who fall within the following boundaries: Ottawa Tourism and Tourism Prescott-Russell.
Should you fall outside these parameters, we encourage you to visit the following links for other funding programs that may be available to you:
- Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization (RTO11) – Tourism Recovery and Innovation Program
- Managing your business during COVID-19: Financial support, loans and access to credit - Canada.ca (RRRF, HASCAP, etc.)
- Province of Ontario – COVID-19 Business Support Grants (ON Small Business Support Grant, Main Street Relief Grant for PPE)
- Outaouais Tourism Region - Sanitation Program for Tourism Businesses in the Outaouais (SPTBO) 2020-2022
- Invest Ottawa Digital Main Street program
- Province of Ontario - Reconnect Festival and Event Program
- Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) - The Community Building Fund – Operating stream
6. I am receiving other COVID-19 related government funding to support my business (CEWS, CECRA, CEBA and TWSE). Can I still apply to TRIP?
A: Yes, businesses who are receiving other COVID-19 related funding can apply to TRIP as long as the funds that have already been/are to be received through these other programs do not overlap with the items that are being requested for reimbursement/advance in your TRIP application. Any violations in relation to this criteria will result in automatic cancellation of your application and may require your business to pay back awarded TRIP funds and/or require legal action to be taken.
7. What are the “applicable government laws, rules, regulations, guidelines and other legally binding measures (Laws)” that the Applicants must be in full compliance with?
A: Upon awarding of TRIP funds, applicants will be required to enter into a formal Funding Agreement with Ottawa Tourism.
8. What is considered an eligible tourism business?
A: Tourism Operators as defined by and according to Tourism HR Canada include: Accommodation (hotels, motels, resorts, campgrounds, and recreational vehicle facilities), Recreation and Entertainment (zoos, museums, theatres, sports facilities, amusement parks, government parks, heritage sites, hunting, fishing or outdoor adventure outfitters, and casinos), Food and beverage services (restaurants from fast service to fine dining, as well as pubs, nightclubs, cruise ships, and convention centres); Travel services (retail travel agencies, wholesale tour companies, or corporate offices with their own booking divisions) and Transportation (companies that provide transport by air, land or water, and include airlines, bus companies, taxi companies, ferry services, and cruise ships). Retail stores heavily dependent on tourism may also be considered.
9. What if I am a seasonal tourism business that won’t be in operation through to December 31, 2021? Am I still eligible to apply to TRIP?
A: Yes, you are eligible for TRIP funds as long as you indicate your current operating dates and provide an explanation in the Business Details under hours of operation and in the Funding Request summary in the application form. For further clarity, your business may not be open to the public past a certain seasonal date, but this doesn’t mean that your business has ceased operating. There is a difference between an “off-season” and business closure. A business that is likely to see closure before December 31, 2021 is unfortunately not eligible for these funds.
10. Why am I being asked to provide proof of commercial general liability insurance of at least $2,000,000?
A: This is Ottawa Tourism’s standard request for all funding programs.
11. The “Eligible Activities and Costs” list doesn’t include the items I am seeking to purchase or receive reimbursement for. Can I still apply for TRIP?
A: Yes, you are still able to apply for TRIP, however your eligibility will only be determined once you have completed the application process and provided further details in the Funding Request section of the application form. Once your application is submitted it will be reviewed by our team to determine if it meets the TRIP eligibility criteria. You will be notified once a decision has been made.
12. Can I use TRIP funds to purchase digital hardware (such as a laptop or computer) or e-commerce software?
A: Hardware such as computers/laptops are not eligible under TRIP, however implementation of digital tools and transformations for tourism operators are eligible, including but not limited to:
- Virtual queues;
- Timed entry ticketing; and
- E-commerce tools aimed at contactless purchase of tourism experiences.
The goal is to safeguard the visitor experience of your business offering to your on-site customers, and if a digital tool will make their experience safer in the context of COVID-19, then it would be eligible for TRIP. Upgrades of fixed assets such as laptop computers are not considered ways to safeguard the visitor experience for a business.
Please see the list of “Ineligible Activities and Costs” located in the Program Details and Eligibility content. Should you be interested in launching an online store, we encourage you to apply to Invest Ottawa’s Digital Main Street program.
13. I would like to use TRIP funding to cover marketing expenses. Is that permitted/eligible?
A: Marketing expenses are not eligible for TRIP funding. This program has been developed in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to ensure our industry can effectively meet the evolving health, safety and experience needs of residents and visitors. It is therefore designed to alleviate the financial burden placed on businesses to prepare their on-site visitor experience with COVID-19 related health and safety measures, or to implement digital tools that assist their customers in improving their customer journey with such things as e-ticket reservations or online queueing, etc. Marketing/promotion activities such as website development or improvements, social media or traditional media campaigns, or new promotional content are not categorized as required to effectively meet the evolving health, safety and experience needs of customers.
14. I am looking into developing a strategic plan for my tourism business, is this an eligible expense?
A: The costs surrounding strategic planning (ie: the hiring of a consultant to do so, or staff time to complete one's own strategic planning) are not eligible for TRIP funding. This program has been developed in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to ensure our industry can effectively meet the evolving health, safety and experience needs of residents and visitors. It is therefore designed to alleviate the financial burden placed on businesses to prepare their on-site visitor experience with COVID-19 related health and safety measures, or to implement digital tools that assist their customers' enjoyment and safety in the visitor experience of a tourism business's public-facing offering.
15. I am a festival that can’t operate an in-person event this year and therefore have revenue losses. Am I eligible for TRIP?
A: Unfortunately, TRIP is not designed to cover lost revenue capacity for events that haven’t been able to take place in person or for attractions that haven’t been able to provide an in-person visitor experience due to COVID-19. There is other funding that is set up to address this gap, and we will list some of your options under this answer.
This program has been developed in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to ensure our industry can effectively meet the evolving health, safety and experience needs of residents and visitors. It is therefore designed to alleviate the financial burden placed on businesses to prepare their on-site visitor experience with COVID-19 related health and safety measures, or to implement digital tools that assist their customers in improving their customer journey with such things as e-ticket reservations or online queueing, etc.
For funding to cover operational costs, revenue shortfall, or pivoting to fully online experiences, please consult the following links to explore options available through federal and provincial funding sources:
16. Other than a receipt of purchase, what counts as “proof of payment”?
A: For the purposes of this program, eligible “proof of purchase” includes either an itemized cashier’s receipt or a paid invoice. We cannot accept internal accounting documents as proof of payment.
All “proof of payment” documents that are provided to Ottawa Tourism must include the:
- Date of purchase(s);
- Quantity of item(s) purchased;
- Cost of item(s); and
- Document(s) must be clearly legible.
17. Am I able to submit invoices or receipts from a non-licensed contractor?
A: Under TRIP's Applicant Eligibility Criteria, it states that "Applicants must be in full compliance with all applicable government laws, rules, regulations, guidelines, and other legally binding measures (Laws)." This includes any safety regulations, permitting, and insurance requirements for retrofits and expansions as part of your TRIP project. As such, having all invoices and receipts provided by a licensed contractor will be necessary. If you cannot provide the proper documentation, then these expenses will not be accepted and your funding contribution will be revised to reflect the amended amount.
18. What file format am I able to use to upload the “Acceptable documents include receipts of purchase and/or proof of payment; photographs of installed items”?
A: The following document formats are able to be uploaded:
- Microsoft Word Document (*.docx) or Word 97-2003 Document (*.doc)
- Adobe PDF Files (*pdf)
- JPEG (*.jpg, *.jpeg, *.jpe)
19. How will I be notified if I have been approved, waitlisted or declined for funding?
A: Within 30 business days of submitting your application you will receive an email to the email address provided in your application. Please ensure you check your junk and spam folders for our response.
20. Why is the funding amount less than the costs I submitted for support?
A: Applications are reviewed against a number of assessment criteria, including but not limited to the impact of COVID-19 on business operations, availability of other financial support, applicant viability and the economic benefits of TRIP support. Due to anticipated high demand, funds may be limited. The funding amount may also be reduced for recipient costs that are available through other government support measures and to exclude ineligible costs. You will be provided with comments from our team to reflect the reduction in funding requested.
TRIP APPLICATION, REVIEW AND AWARDING PROCESS
21. How was my application reviewed?
A: Submitted TRIP applications will be assessed using the following criteria:
- Eligibility of applicant (including geographic and tourism-facing);
- Eligibility of activities and expenditures for funding;
- Completeness of the application;
- Date the application is received and availability of remaining funding;
- Ensuring a broad number of tourism businesses benefit from the program; and
- Project does not adversely impact the environment.
Applicants will be been informed that they may not be approved for funding even if they meet all the necessary eligibility requirements. There is also a set amount of funds available for this program. As such, applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis with members of the three tourism organizations being prioritized.
Due to the high volume of applications anticipated, an offer less than the full requested amount may also be awarded at the discretion of the Review Team.
The assessment process for funding is comprised of two rounds:
- First round applicant assessment will be completed by Reviewer Teams which have been established based on the geography of the applicant and with a collaborative approach, will be able to maintain transparency and clarity throughout the assessment process.
- Second round applicant assessment by Approval Team will confirm an applicant's details and funding request, be added to a Pending Award spreadsheet, which is provided twice weekly to an adjudication committee to sign off on. The Approval Team then activates the next procedure, whereby the applicant is notified of their status and will follow the awarding process dependent on whether they have selected reimbursement or future spending options.
22. My TRIP application was successful and I have been approved for funding. How will I receive my payment?
A: If your application has been approved for funding you will receive an approval email sent to the email address provided in your application requesting the necessary Electronic Funds Transfer information. Once this information is received, we will endeavor to release the first installment of your payment within 30 business days. Please note that your full payment will be dependent on our receipt of your final report. For projects relating to future spending, we will release 50% of your funding to start, followed by 2 remaining installments triggered by the completion of the full project and the final reporting.
23. Agreement terms - if I am not the authorized signer, what is the process to set my authorized signer up?
A: Please note if you are NOT the authorized signer (AS), you can invite your AS to collaborate on your application for them to sign. Click on "Back to Application" - located on the left hand side > Click "Add Collaborator" > Follow the instructions.
24. I received an Email that says at the end "If you have any questions, concerns, or updates about your application, please do not hesitate to reach out to us through the online application portal." Where do I go to do this?
A: Please login and click the “i” button located in the top right hand side of the page to ask your question and click send. Please allow for up to 5 business days for one of our administrators to respond.
25. What is the process for uploading my proof of purchase receipts and invoices? Should I begin this process prior to completing my project?
A: Due to the high volume of applications that we will be processing, we ask that you submit your proof of purchase receipts, invoices and images all at once at the end of your project once complete.
For applicants who are submitting for reimbursement, the same applies- please submit all proof of purchase receipts, invoices and images.
26. I have been awarded funding - what if I don’t have a void cheque to include in my EFT?
A: It is always best to include a void cheque to ensure all information provided is clear, however this is not a mandatory field. As long as all information provided is correct, this will not affect your funding disbursement.
27. My application was not approved, why not?
A: Unfortunately, not all businesses that apply will be deemed eligible for the program due reasons including, but not limited to:
- Not meeting the criteria of being a Rural, Francophone or Indigenous business;
- Not having a registered business number; and
- Missing documentation: not filling out the proper paperwork and not submitting all forms required to meet the eligibility (could include budget, COVID plan or declaration).
Throughout the funding application and review process, the TRIP team will communicate with all businesses as required (tourism members and non-members) to help guide them through the process and ensure that all of the eligibility criteria are met.
If you have any questions on why your specific application was not approved, please contact the TRIP team via email@example.com and we will respond to your questions within 5 business days.