The Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab and its Chatham-Kent partners hosted a Dragon’s Den-style event at SOAR Innovationt. Five “Spark” Program finalists pitched their innovative tourism ideas for the region. The top three were selected to receive a $3,000 grant to start up or continue growing their tourism idea along with mentorship opportunities to ensure long term success.
The Chatham-Kent “Spark” Mentorships & Grants Program is a partnership between the Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab (a program of Hackforge), Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, Southwest Ontario Tourism, Chatham-Kent Tourism, Chatham-Kent Economic Development, VIA Rail Canada, Libro Credit Union and SOAR Innovation. Chatham-Kent is one of 5 regions in the province to offer the program to date.
The “Spark” Program’s goal is to find, foster and support new tourism ideas that will enhance current tourism offerings, create new, high-quality tourism experiences, addresses gaps in tourism products and services, motivate travel, longer stays and repeat visits, and increase year-round visitation and tourism spending.
The 2019-20 Chatham-Kent “Spark” Program winners are (left to right in the attached photo):
– Forest Therapy Walks, Dan & Ann Wright
– TJ Stables, John Basdin, Terry Jenkins, Andria Dyer
– Fresh Connection, Thomas Waite, Tabitha Hastings, Susanne Spence Wilkins
The winners were presented with special certificates by MPP Rick Nicholls, Mayor Darrin Canniff, Tracey Nurmi from VIA Rail Canada, Jerry Delaey from Libro Credit Union, and Gaurav Gupta from SOAR Innovation.
In addition to a source of funds and mentorship, the winners received vouchers for VIA Rail and SOAR Innovation, and gain access to a network of tourism innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders.
“We were excited to receive 17 applications from all around Chatham-Kent,” said Justin Lafontaine, Program Lead for the Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab. “We congratulate our pitch session winners and look forward to supporting them to help take their great new tourism ideas to the next level.”
For more information visit www.tourisminnovation.ca/chathamkent.