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October 13, 2020
New program aims to “Spark” innovative tourism ideas for Oxford County

Local finalists will compete for one of three $3,000 grants at pitch session in January

A new program aimed at sparking and supporting innovative tourism ideas in Oxford County was officially launched today with a digital announcement video.

The “Spark” Mentorships & Grants Program will match selected applicants with a tourism mentor and provide a $3,000 grant to help take their new tourism ideas to the next level of development.

The program’s goal is to find, foster and support new tourism ideas, experiences and partnerships that will enhance the region’s current offerings, address gaps or challenges, motivate travel and longer stays, and increase year-round visits.

The program’s partners are looking for passionate, creative people who want to share their stories and celebrate the community through new tourism ventures. They are especially interested in ideas that connect with the arts, culture & heritage (e.g., historic venue activations), cycling (e.g., guided bike tours), and the outdoors (e.g., ecoadventures), and that are aligned with Oxford County's commitment to sustainability.

Applications are encouraged from individuals, small businesses and non-profit organizations based in Oxford County from Tuesday, October 13 to Friday, November 20, 2020. Following a review process, top applicants will be invited to a Finalists’ Pitch Session where three winners will be selected.

The Oxford County “Spark” Program is led by the Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Sport Tourism & Culture Industries,  Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation, Tourism Oxford, and Community Futures Oxford. The region is one of 10 across Ontario to have launched the program to date.

For more information on the “Spark” Mentorships & Grants Program, application guide, and info sessions visit


Justin Lafontaine, Program Lead, Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab

“We are excited to be launching the “Spark” Program in Oxford County and keen to spark and support new tourism ideas that will enhance the region’s tourism offerings and drive innovation.”

Meredith Maywood, Tourism Specialist, Oxford County

“Oxford’s artisans, entrepreneurs and businesses are known for their innovation and inventiveness, particularly during these challenging times. We’re excited to see what our community will bring forward to showcase Oxford County to our visitors!”

Jim Hudson, Executive Director, Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation (SWOTC)

“As a founding partner of the Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab, SWOTC is thrilled to collaborate on the Oxford County “Spark” Program building on successful rounds in three other regions in southwest Ontario. Those have generated over 60 new tourism ideas and connected nine tourism entrepreneurs with mentors, grants and other support. Congratulations, we have high expectations for continued spectacular achievements!”

Social media and online content

Instagram: tourismoxford
Twitter: Tourism Oxford
Facebook: Tourism Oxford

Instagram: @ONTourismInnovation
Twitter: @TourInnovation
Facebook: @ONTourismInnovation


About Tourism Oxford

Located in the heartland of Southwestern Ontario, Oxford County is known for great cycling, slow food, a diverse heritage and its commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2050. Sample the cheese trail, see how our landscape inspires local artists, and immerse yourself in our rural lifestyle. Just slow down and unplug as you tour Oxford.

Tourism Oxford recognizes Oxford County's strengths are its natural environment, rich agricultural land, heritage and cultural opportunities. Tourism Oxford has therefore embraced Future Oxford’s sustainability commitments to preserve the tourism appeal and assets of Oxford County.



Justin Lafontaine, Program Lead, Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab
416.712.8819 |

Jenn Austin | Strategic Communication & Engagement

Oxford County is taking steps to support our community's response to COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) and measures taken by Southwestern Public Health. We are monitoring our operations daily to ensure we are taking the right actions to protect our residents, employees and visitors. Get updates at