Industry Archives - RTO 9

RTO 9 – Free training with Tourism SkillsNet 9 (TSN9)

Due to an overwhelming response to the program, please note that the training is available, but the wage subsidy kickback has ended until further notice. Check back for updates.

The TSN9 training program will prepare employees or job seekers for a career in the tourism industry. The program is possible due to a collaboration between Destination Northern Ontario, OTEC – Workforce Innovation, Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario, Ontario Employment Service Providers, and RTO 9. BasicallyTourism SkillsNet 9 has been crafted to reshape the trajectory of your career in tourism.

We’ve identified specific workforce labour gaps and crafted a comprehensive training initiative aimed at nurturing job seekers or employees. Seamlessly bridging the gap between talent and job availability, Tourism SkillsNet 9 seeks to connect you with exciting employment prospects across South Eastern Ontario’s vibrant tourism landscape.

This program is made for jobseekers, seasonal workers, or newly-hired employees looking to improve their skills.

Training opportunities are open to as many employees as possible, in order to  foster a skilled workforce primed for excellence.

The Tourism SkillsNet 9 (TSN9) Training Guide below includes an overview of the free training that a participant can receive once enrolled in Tourism SkillsNet 9 (TSN9). The Tourism Skills Net RTO 9 training guide provides an overview of the available training programs and courses that are available until March 31st, 2024.

Virtual Instructor-Led Training

Essential Service Excellence Service Excellence encourages participants to go beyond basic customer service and empowers them to create memorable

Hospitality Professionalism Participants will learn about effective communication systems, devices, anticipatory and personalized service in hospitality.

Virtual self-led eLearning

Service EQ  This interactive training will provide you with strategies for leveraging and developing your Emotional Intelligence in both your personal life and during your work within the Tourism and Hospitality industry.

Communicating for Excellence

Through this interactive training, you’ll learn how different communication styles influence our behavour and day-to-day situations. Learn how to understand, manage, and leverage emotional intelligence to effectively deal with conflict and relate to others more effectively

Smart Serve

The training will prepare you to work in any environment where alcohol is sold, served, or sampled in the province of Ontario. Get ready to learn with short videos, quizzes, text/audio, activities, and games before completing the Final Certification.

Food Safety

This course will help you learn important information about food safety and how to do your job better. It has been designed to meet all of the recommended requirements of the Canadian Food Retail and Foodservices Code and Regulations.

De-Escalation Training

Achieving Service Excellence with De-escalation of problems and issues.


Through this interactive training, you’ll learn how different communication styles influence our behaviour and day-to-day situations. Learn how to understand, manage, and leverage emotional intelligence to effectively deal with conflict and relate to others more effectively.

Please contact:

Anne Awori, Project Manager

RTO 9 South Eastern Ontario

About Regional Tourism Organization (RTO 9)

RTO 9 is a Regional Tourism Organization established in 2010 that is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. RTO 9 actively promotes tourism for the South Eastern Ontario region and works to support and grow the tourism industry through marketing, product development, investment attraction, and workforce development initiatives.

For more information please visit our website:

Drive for Excellence in 2022

RTO 9 once again was pleased to implement a funding program developed to help start, build or grow organizations’ marketing programs.

The Drive for Excellence program was designed for Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) and Destination Marketing Program (DMPs) partners to support everything from strategy development to marketing campaign support, to operator training and many other options.

 The Drive for Excellence program:

  • Maps out how destinations and operators want to develop over time; business, market, and trade ready
  • Allows destinations and operators to self-identify their current readiness and understand what’s ahead
  • Helps the RTO to collaborate with destinations to provide direct access to professional services and knowledgeable marketing support
  • Provides a strategic and measurable industry development legacy
  • Provides direct access to professional services and knowledgeable marketing support

Below are the support programs that have been initiated for each destination for the 2022/2023 season.

Prince Edward County – Paid Search Strategy – Countylicious
Bay of Quinte – Content creation + digital asset development curated by BoQ
Kingston – TBD
Cornwall – Influencer and PR Media FAM tours through TartanBond + Content creation + digital asset development
SDG Counties – Media plan and implementation through Alphabet Creative
1000 Islands Gananoque – Influencer and PR Media Fam tours through TartanBond + Digital
Lennox and Addington – Digital media campaign with 1Dea Creative plus Design
Frontenac County – Content creation + digital asset development, Experiential Workshop 
Brockville – Content creation + Influencer and PR Media FAM tours through TartanBond
1000 Islands Rideau Canal Waterways – 1000 Islands & Rideau Canal Waterways Tourism Development Strategy implementation

Attracting and Retaining Tomorrow’s Top Talent

If you are a business owner, particularly in the tourism and hospitality sector, the struggle to find employees as we move through the reopening stages is incredibly challenging. How is it that we can tell the right story to attract the right people and seamlessly bring them on to our teams? And when they arrive, what can we do to keep everyone engaged and productive? Yesterday’s best practices aren’t necessarily ‘best’ today and how we tell our story to attract and keep top talent must change.

We met with workplace and talent expert Eric Termuende and Kingston’s Sean Billing of the Frontenac Club to discuss workforce struggles, new insights, and research to build incredible places to work both today and into the future. From what the next generation of work is looking for to future workplace trends, these insights will help you prepare for an exciting and unpredictable 2022 and beyond.

Eric is the co-founder of NoWof Work, author of the bestselling book Rethink Work, and global keynote speaker. A former World Economic Forum Global Shaper and recognized as one of the Top 100 Emerging Innovators under 35 by American Express, his ideas have been featured in Forbes, Thrive Global, The Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, and many more. Having been on hundreds of stages and worked with and studied the greatest places to work in the world he knows what it takes to build incredible teams that are resilient, innovative, and ready for the future of work.

Sean brings a wealth of hospitality, accommodation, and tourism experiences with him, having held corporate, regional, and senior property positions during his 26-year career. Sean’s path has seen him lead in resort areas around the globe, including the Canadian Rockies, East Africa, the United States, and Central Ontario.

Eric: “What are you seeing right now in the industry that both excites you and both concerns, you, with respect to this talent conversation, and attracting and retaining top talent?”

Sean: “So what excites me right now as I think we’ve got an opportunity to retell our story to speak, to speak to potential job seekers about what our industry brings to the table and what skills they can develop within our industry.

I’m a firm believer, just based on the number of people that I stay in contact with, who built their career and hospitality, and then turn those skills into something else, that we’ve got a real story to tell. I’m excited about that. Any disruption like we’ve just gone through creates an opportunity for us as well. So there’s an opportunity right now, as we retool, and get busier and busier, to bring new talent into our organizations. The struggle, of course, is where’s that’s talent going to come from? And how attractive is our industry going to appear right now after having gone through a series of layoffs?

And after having, displaced a lot of people in a pretty short period of time, I’m generally excited about the opportunity. I think every disruption creates a bit of a renaissance. Employers, we have the opportunity to redefine what working in the tourism and hospitality industry can look like.”

Eric: “How has the industry sort of evolved through the last 16 or 18 months? You said sort of new hospitality industry is emerging. What does that look like? And how has that changed over the last couple of years?”

Sean: “If we go back to 24 months, we had a talent shortage that we were feeling. We were still struggling to find positions, particularly frontline people, that we then went into, this massive disruption, and in many cases, we weren’t able to hang onto the good people that we had. In some cases, we were able to. And certainly, those businesses that were able to take advantage of government support probably felt a little bit better than those like-minded it couldn’t. But I think it, it’s probably coming out the other side, we can see what talent looks like. More clearly, we can see how productive organizations can be. Many operators, probably were in the trenches and probably can think about now more clearly than they could have two years ago. What the job actually entails and what skills and abilities you actually need, so I think there’s a real opportunity there.”

Sean: “What do you think is happening from a macro level as it relates to our sector or as it relates to work in general?”

Eric: This talent opportunity is shared by industries all across the nation. Achievers Workforce Institute right now is saying that 52% of people across the country and into the United States now are interested in or looking for a new job. We’re seeing about a 50% increase in the number of people who are turning over from last year. I think there are multiple factors, I think people stuck around, maybe longer than they would have, or would have liked to. We’re seeing people move at, record numbers, interestingly enough, though we’re calling this or researchers are calling this the great resignation. I don’t like that term, because it implies that people are just leaving their resigning, and not an active part of the workforce. I would rather rephrase it, the Great Reconfiguration, in the sense that I think COVID, in many ways, was a catalyst to what the future of work will be.

The future of work is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed. When I look at the future of work, it’s actually less about the jobs or the tasks. It’s more about the lifestyle and the workplace experience. I would say that in 2011, people moved their lives for their job. Now, people are moving their jobs for their lifestyle. And I think that, over the past 18 months, we’ve seen priorities shift. We’ve seen new skills, new talents, emerge. We’ve seen that new priorities have been heightened and increased in importance and the companies that are doing the best right now or even the operators that are doing the best right now and attracting and retaining talent.

Sean: “What are great companies doing to sort of battle this great resignation or this great reconfiguration?”

We don’t sign up for jobs anymore. Let’s be very clear. We sign up for a lifestyle. The job becomes the vehicle that we use to drive through this lifestyle. When we can proactively create a great workplace, the more proactive we can be in creating that environment of safety –  Psychological safety, which is the ability to present your full self.

It’s the companies that are creating the sense of psychological safety, of belonging, of camaraderie, of community that are now able to leverage this experience and the positivity and the great environment. They have to attract more people that want this similar experience. If we want to start to attract the best talent, we have to be more proactive in creating a great place for the people that are already there. They can be our greatest advocates, our best recruiters, and ultimately source the best talent.

What’s to say, that we don’t showcase their story, maybe on our social media page, or maybe through a little blog post, or maybe give them something to share on their social media, or whatever it might be. I found that when we can start to showcase the people who are already doing great work, not only does it reinforce the great work that they do, not only does it help them repeat the great actions that have happened. But it also gives their network a bit of a peek behind the curtain as to what’s happening in the organization, how these individuals are treated, and how they’re part of a better team and how they’re trusted and respected and appreciated, and that maybe they could be two. 

In all the work that I’ve done surveying these organizations and interviewing these leaders, we talk about connection, and there’s something that’s really stood out to me. And it’s the fastest way to speed up human connection is actually to slow down. There are no shortcuts, there are no fast lanes in this. The end actually is a long way, because, if we keep trying to take shortcuts will never actually get to where we wanna go. When teams are able to experiment, and try new things, engagement, and motivation, go up by about 40%.

We’re seeing the rise of entrepreneurs and startups. We’re seeing the rise of remote work. We’re seeing the rise of the freelancer who isn’t necessarily creating their own company, but now is on websites like Upwork and Freelancer and doing all sorts of design in consultation and maybe even some engineering work all from the bedroom in their house. They’re doing quite well, and they’re able to live a more flexible environment in a flexible lifestyle.

We’re also seeing the priorities have changed in the last couple of months. We’re seeing that people want to spend more time with their families. We’re seeing that, life is a little bit more fragile than perhaps we thought that it might have been.

All of these things are shaping the working world. I would also say that immigration in Canada is down. So we’ve got a job shortage in that sense. We’re seeing that attrition in the workplace is up, we’re seeing more baby boomers retiring than ever before, especially now that the pandemic would like to thank is on its final legs. So there’s a structural change in the employee market.”

COVID has helped bring some very key aspects of employment that maybe were not top of mind before – Psychological Safety, Belonging, community, camaraderie. It is vital that you engage in a positive way with your team! If you are looking for more inspiration, we would encourage you to look for a copy of Eric’s book Rethink Work.

Product and Experience Development Training & Skills Programs

A tourism product is what you buy, an experience is what you remember! The following links provide information, resources, and opportunities to guide tourism operators in the development of new or enhanced experiential products.

RTO 9 – Growing Experiential Tourism is a high priority for RTO 9. Not only does it add a new revenue stream for businesses, but it also enhances the slower seasons, creates a competitive advantage, opens the doors to new markets and repeat visitation, and encourages creative usage of existing infrastructure. Most importantly though, Experiential Tourism is attracting travellers who not only love learning new things but care about the destinations and the locals that live there. RTO 9 provides free coaching to help you bring your tourism experience to market.

Destination Canada – Utilizing the Explorer Quotient Toolkit, Destination Canada provides tourism businesses with valuable insights into why and how different people like to travel. Explorer Quotient goes beyond traditional market research of defining people. It looks deeper at individuals’ personal beliefs, social values, and views of the world to learn exactly why different types of travellers seek out entirely different travel experiences. Learn about Explorer Quotient and how to implement the program by developing a strategic plan with an Explorer Quotient authorized trainer.

Gros Morne Institute for Sustainable Tourism (GMIST) – GMIST offers training programs, video recordings and development support services to advance the quality and success of tourism operators and destinations.
With the goal of enhancing the quality and sustainability of tourism experiences, GMIST provides support and training in:
• Sustainable Tourism Practices
• Experiential Tourism
• Tourism Community Development
• Culinary Tourism
• Indigenous Tourism

Culinary Tourism – The Culinary Tourism Alliance helps to build destination’s taste of place by supporting agriculture, viticulture, and aquaculture industries across the culinary tourism value chain. CTA promotes authentic tastes of place by sharing stories with pride and honouring the cultures that create these experiences

Eastern Ontario Agri-Food Network (EOAN) – EOAN shares several routes each season for wanderers curious about where there food comes from putting forward people that work hard into making and offering amazing foods, as well as other activities to fill your day or weekend trips. They’ve done all the work for you! Simply download the trips directly to your phone (or print them) and buckle up. These trips are ideal for couples looking for a romantic weekend getaway, families hoping for a break in the routine as well as retired couples or groups of friends simply looking to create memories to last a lifetime and discover what Eastern Ontario has to offer!

Elevating Canadian Experiences – Winter/Shoulder & Culinary National Program – Explore content ranging from strategy development to practical tools and tips – all designed to help grow and adapt your tourism business as an operator and build tourism capacity in your region as a destination partner. Explore resources in developing and using guidelines, assessing your readiness, goal setting, strategy development and partnering for success. Explore growing agritourism, culinary tourism and multisensory experience development.

The Tourism Cafe – As one of Canada’s leading tourism training companies with a national reputation for experiential travel training that raises the bar on the visitor experience. The Tourism Café employs professional educators with an award-winning, finely-tuned instructional design process that is highly collaborative, inclusive and engaging.

Tourwriter – The future of tourism: travel trends for 2021 and beyond.

Case Studies and Idea Generators: Get your creative juices flowing with these unique success stories

Newfoundland and Labrador – St. John’s Haunted Hike and Lighthouse Picnics, Linkum Tours whale watching and Tour Labrador’s 1-3 night packages.

BC’s Cultural and Heritage Tourism Development – check out the Economuseum story. Economuseums are workshop environments in which goods are produced on a small scale, focusing on the preservation of traditional skills and craftsmanship. U’Mista Cultural Centre – Creating an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Treasure. How the community of Wells was built into a Creative Arts Community destination.

How the Rise of Experiential Travel Benefits Tour Operators – Crowdriff, article by Julia Manoukian. Experiential travel was once a niche that only appealed to the most adventurous travelers unafraid to jump off the itinerary and truly eat, see, and experience a destination for all that it’s worth. But the digital age has helped bring this kind of travel into the mainstream. More travelers are interested in learning about what’s on the minds of locals or breaking bread with a host family than dining at a Michelin starred restaurant

COVID – 19 Tourism Adaptation Fund

The program is now closed to applications and is fully subscribed.

We’d like to thank all applicants for their interest and applications for this fund. The following information has been retained for reference purposes only.

The Regional Tourism Organization for South Eastern Ontario (RTO 9) is pleased to announce it has received $500,000 in financial support from the Federal Government of Canada as part of The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev)’s COVID-19 Tourism Adaptation Fund. RTO-9 will administer the funding and distribute to tourism-related businesses located within Leeds & Grenville County, Frontenac County, Lennox & Addington, and Hastings County, in the form of a one-time, non-repayable grant up to a maximum of $20,000.

Through this funding, RTO 9 was able to support 65 businesses with expenses related to the purchase of PPE, e-commerce, and alterations to their business to ensure the health and safety of visitors and staff.

Brockville & Area
Buell St Bistro

Cedar Valley GC
Keystorm Pub
Richards Coffee House
1000 Islands B&B
Dewars Inn
Sri Isaac Brock

Prescott Golf

Rideau & Area
The Cove
The Green Gecko
Westport Brewing Co

Newboro House
Furnace Falls
Green Gables Vines

Saunders Country
Shawmere Cottages

Seasons of Westport
JJ’s Country Diner
1840 Guest House B&B
Hard Stones Grill

Poplars Resort

Cottage Coffee

1000 Islands Gananoque
Charleston Lake Retreat
1000 Islands Tower

Lennox & Addington
MacKinnon Brothers
Loyalist Golf Club

Napanee Golf Club
Bergeron Estate & Winery
Waterfront River Pub
Five Corner Craft
Topsy Farms
Touch of Wellness
Loyalist Cultural Centre
Loyalist Trading Co
Lakeview Tavern
Thirty-Three Vines
Marble Lake Lodge

Frontenac County
Sharbot Lake Country Inn
The Blue Moose

Bay of Quinte
Batawa Ski Hill
Birdy’s Fine Casual Dining
Parks Creek Retreat
Signal Brewing Co.
Quinte Corner Café
Santorini Medit. Grill
Glanmore Site
Red Rock Canyon
L’Auberge De France
Old Church Theatre
Riverbrake Café
Tomassos Grill
Barcovan Golf
The Brake Room

Lone Star
Orange Julius
Papa John’s
Boston Pizza
Shoeless Joe’s

FedDev Ontario delivers programming to help grow businesses, cultivate partnerships and build stronger communities, offering services to support innovation and economic growth in Southern Ontario under the direction of the Federal Ministry of Economic Development and Official Languages. FedDev recognizes the significant decline in tourism activity for many tourism-dependent communities in South Eastern Ontario as a result of the pandemic, and has provided funding for relief efforts to help offset unforeseen costs incurred. Businesses and organizations who have had to pivot business costs to account for large scale PPE equipment, additional health and safety protocols, expansion of space to accommodate social distancing regulations etc., are all eligible to apply.