Local tourism officials are hopeful that the Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab can grow the local economy and create fresh ideas. June 12, 2018. (Photo by Paul Pedro)

Local tourism officials are hopeful that the Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab can grow the local economy and create fresh ideas.

The new incubator was launched in Windsor-Essex on Tuesday with a goal to find and support start-up tourism experiences, product ideas and partnerships.

Lynnette Bain, Vice President of Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island, says there’s a program that will match selected participants with mentors and provide a $3,000 grant to help take ideas to the next level.

“These are developing brainchildren of people who have passion projects in mind and short term we are going to bring some of those people out of the woodwork we hope,” says Bain.

This tourism pilot in Windsor-Essex will be expanded across the province next year.

Local mentor and grant applications are being accepted until August 1. Selected applicants will pitch their ideas in October, and the top ideas will get support. Visit www.tourisminnovation.ca for more information.

Bain says the tourism lab will enhance current offerings, motivate travel and increase visits.

“Long term we are creating a better inventory of tourism assets and the more tourism assets that you have to bring people down, unique, authentic experiences, the longer they are going to stay,” she says.

Bain says this is the first tourism development program of its kind in the province and could lead to some big projects in the future.

“It’s not that there’s not enough things to do, we just see there’s an interest in developing new ideas that haven’t been explored before,” Bain says.

Paul is a news reporter and anchor, and has worked at several radio stations across Southern Ontario including Toronto, Oshawa, Windsor and Chatham. He graduated from Radio Broadcasting at Humber College in 1997.

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