News Archives - RTO 9

South Eastern Ontario’s Tourism Industry Gets A Boost: RTO 9 Announces 2024 Partnership Fund Recipients From its Round #1 Intake

RTO 9, Regional Tourism Organization for South Eastern Ontario, is proud to announce the recipients of its 2024 Partnership Fund Program funding from round #1 intake. This intake round will support 12 exciting projects that promote tourism and economic growth in the region.

Each of these initiatives has been carefully selected for their potential to enhance the visitor experience and drive economic benefits for the region.

Through the Partnership Fund Program, RTO 9 aims to foster collaboration and innovation in the tourism industry, ensuring that South Eastern Ontario remains a top destination for visitors. We are committed to working with our partners to promote initiatives that positively impact the local community and the tourism industry as a whole.

We want to congratulate the recipients of this year’s Partnership Fund Program funding and thank them for their dedication to promoting tourism and economic growth in the region. We can’t wait to see the impact these initiatives will have on the visitor experience in South Eastern Ontario!



SO LO Social Local JULY 26 – JULY 27, 2024: Beyond the Glass: Eastern Ontario Women’s Arts Festival, where the spirit of women’s creativity is honored and uplifted. This unique event is a beacon for the arts, set against the picturesque backdrop of Eastern Ontario, and highlights the extraordinary talents of local women artists and performers. This event will also showcase dancers, actors, visual artists, and comedians, all coming together to create an immersive and inclusive festival environment. The event will span five venues, hosting a makers market, three pop-up galleries, and three performance spaces that promise to engage and inspire.

1000 Islands Rideau Waterways

Stone Manor Studios MAY 3 – MAY 20, 2024: Daffodil Days: A Celebration of Creativity at Stone Manor Studios will showcase our community’s artistic and natural heritage, make more public a valuable historical asset in the community, the 1860s stone manor house at Stone Manor Studios, and offer a renaissance of creativity amid our stunning daffodil-filled landscapes. Visitors can experience the natural beauty of the Rideau Lakes, immerse themselves in the world-renowned UNESCO heritage Rideau Canal in Newboro, and cultivate a creative spirit by attending scheduled, day-long art and craft workshops.

Prince Edward County

The Waring HouseJUNE 6 – JUNE 9, 2024: The PEC Folk & Irish Festival is a celebration of Canadian folk and Irish music and the contributions of the Irish in Canada. We will offer the opportunity to enjoy live musical performances, performance instruction, and musical workshops as well as artisanal workshops and opportunities to purchase and enjoy traditional art forms. We will present various dining opportunities such as a full Irish breakfast, Irish High Tea, an Irish whiskey-tasting dinner, an evening of Irish humour, and children’s activities in a day of family fun. We will highlight the history of the Waring family who arrived as Quakers seeking religious freedom.


Les Verges Villeneuve & Blueberry FarmMAY – AUGUST, 2024: Les vergers Villeneuve and Blueberry Farm will be hosting for the first time 8 local Feast dinners, 2 per month in May, June, July and August. These multiple-course meals are prepared by professional Chefs using local products only. Two of the meals will be special musical dinners with a singer providing entertainment during the meal. Les Vergers Villeneuve and Blueberry Farm will also host its first local producers’ market on June 22, 2024. The farm can host approximately 40 local producers who make various items (ie. fruit, veggies, different meats, honey, maple syrup, etc.). This event will be free for the producers to attend as well as for the customers.



W.C. Creatives JUNE 28 – JULY 2, 2024: The Ancestral Echoes Art Exhibit is an identifiably unique branded Indigenous art experience that immerses the art lover into the Indigenous art culture, through social messages such as climate change and truth and reconciliation. The exhibit will be featured alongside Artfest in Kingston but will provide space for Indigenous vendors, performances, and teachings.


Akwesasne PowwowSEPTEMBER 7 – SEPTEMBER 8, 2024: The Akwesasne Powwow. For today’s North American Indigenous peoples, a powwow carries on an early tradition of trade and social activities. It is best described as the “Coming together of the many First Nations to celebrate the cultures and heritage in the spirit of sharing”.


Prince Edward County

Beacon Bike+Brew – Marquee signage for their physical location in Prince Edward County.

Oeno Gallery – Wayfinding signage and QR code storytelling for art pieces featured in their gallery and garden exhibit. They will be complete with bilingual and land acknowledgment incorporation as well. Each artwork sign will have a description, QR code, and price. The QR component will send visitors to their digital walkthrough “Sculpture Stories” program. Each sculpture will have a recorded video with visuals and audio; it is a series of videos about the sculptures and the artists who make them. These signs will encourage visitors to engage and interact with sculptures by using their phones to access audio and visual stories about each artwork. This is a way to educate and inform beyond the signage itself.

Sugarbush Vineyards – Enhancement of their snowshoe/hiking trails with permanent directional signage and educational info panels along the trail system.

Broken Stone Vineyard – Guided/Self-Guided signage for their vineyard, offering additional products outside of wine tastings and can be inclusive of families who are interested in visiting the area; wayfinding signage around the property and educational signs explaining the wine-making process.

Lennox & Addington

Hive & Hearthstone – Marquee signage and wayfinding signage through the apiary for safe self-guided viewing.

1000 Islands Rideau Waterways

Golden Moment Farm – Farm gate signage to identify their business from the road, and trail signage to encourage year-round visitation to the farm through their trail network.

Our second application for Partnership Funding will open from July 5th – July 28th, 2024. The first category eligible for funding is New Events, which can be a one-day event or a larger festival over multiple days. The second category is for the Development of Indigenous Tourism Products, where funding can be used to assist Indigenous operators in creating their tourism businesses or enhancing their products. The third category is for Signage, which can be utilized in the design and installation of wayfinding signage or new marquee signage for a tourism business storefront. Learn more about our Partnership Funding Program here. 

If you have further questions, you are encouraged to contact Meg Dabros, Operations Manager

About RTO 9

RTO 9 is a regional tourism organization established in 2010 that is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Gaming. 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. The regions of South Eastern Ontario are 1000 Islands GananoqueBay of QuinteBrockvilleCornwallStormont, Dundas & Glengarry CountiesFrontenac CountyKingstonLennox and AddingtonPrince Edward County, Prescott-Russell, and 1000 Islands and Rideau Canal Waterways.

Celebrating Inclusive Businesses in Prince Edward County and Kingston

It’s essential for businesses to take steps towards creating a welcoming environment for everyone, regardless of their race, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The Rainbow Registered Program is an online directory that helps businesses showcase their commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Whether you run a restaurant, retail store, or service provider, you can benefit from joining Rainbow Registered. By doing so, you can attract a new customer base, build your brand, and increase your visibility. Plus, displaying the logo on your website or storefront sends a positive message to potential customers that your business is inclusive and welcoming.

The LGBTQ+ community is actively seeking businesses that share their values, and are safe and welcoming. By joining the Rainbow Registry, you can reach this demographic. We’re excited to celebrate the awesome businesses in Prince Edward County and Kingston that have already joined the directory!

  • Adega Wine Bar (PEC)
  • Millefleurs (PEC)
  • The Eddie Hotel & Farm (PEC)
  • Bermuda PEC (PEC)
  • Flame & Smith (PEC)
  • 555 Brewing Co. (PEC)
  • The June Motel (PEC)
  • Visit the County (PEC)
  • PEC Chamber of Commerce
  • Curious Goat General Store (PEC)
  • Jackson’s Falls Country Inn (PEC)
  • Donald Gordon Hotel & Conference Centre (Kingston)
  • Glow Skincare Co. (Kingston)
  • Cher-Mere (Kingston)
  • Kingston Gaming Nexus
  • Improbable Escapes (Kingston)
  • Holiday Inn Kingston Waterfront
  • Four Points by Sheraton Kingston
  • Tourism Kingston
  • Kingston Accommodation Partners
  • Downtown Kingston BIA
  • RTO 9 – woo!

Are you ready to become the next Rainbow Registered business? Visit today to learn more and join the movement towards a more diverse and inclusive society.

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

RTO 9 Takes Home Several Awards at the TIAO Summit

We’re thrilled to announce that we have won ⅗ nominations from the TIAO Ontario Resiliency Awards.  The TIAO Ontario Resiliency Awards are well established as the defining tourism award program in the province and we’re proud to be a part of it. 

Our campaign, Rail + Roam won under the COLLABORATION category for Transportation, Regional Tourism Organization, and Accommodation.  We truly feel that these awards are a reflection of the collaboration we had with our partners and would like to extend our gratitude to Landsby, Alphabet® Creative, and VIA Rail Canada for all of their hard work and team effort put in during this campaign. 

A special congratulations to Tourism Kingston for winning INNOVATION – Food Service for Kingstonlicious, Delta Hotels by Marriott Kingston for winning the Safe Travels Stamp for Tourism Region 9 and The Eddie & The Festival Players for winning COLLABORATION Festivals & Events.

View all award winners here.
View our award-winning campaign, Rail + Roam here.

Thank you from all of us at RTO 9!

About the TIAO Ontario Resiliency Awards

2021 continued to be a year that challenged our industry, reinforcing the need for determination and perseverance. It just made sense for TIAO to continue to recognize those that have shown resiliency, gained inspiration from others and look towards rebuilding with the Ontario Resiliency Awards.

This year’s awards had two new elements of criteria. The first was that each nomination must be able to provide the actions made towards diversity, equity, and inclusion in what they are being nominated for. The second was that each nomination came from the desire and opportunity to promote and collaborate.

Tourism Organizations on Both Sides of the Border Applaud Government of Canada’s Decision to End Travel Restrictions

Easing of COVID-related testing and other measures to significantly impact tourism recovery  

Kingston, ON – September 28, 2022 – As COVID-19 entry requirements lift later this week, tourism organizations on both sides of the border are applauding the Government of Canada’s decision to remove travel restrictions including testing, proof of vaccination status, quarantine and isolation planning. 

With three land border crossings connecting South Eastern Ontario to the U.S. Thousand Islands and Upstate New York regions, the easing of restrictions is a step in the right direction for businesses that rely on cross-border traffic.   

“We are excited to learn that travel restrictions will finally ease for cross-border travellers. This is wonderful news for our destinations in South Eastern Ontario,” said Bonnie Ruddock, Executive Director, Regional Tourism Organization 9 (RTO 9), South Eastern Ontario. “With three land border crossings in our region – Massena-Cornwall International Bridge in Cornwall, Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge in Johnston and the 1000 Islands Bridge in the heart of the 1000 Islands – we hope to be able to resume cross-border travel to pre-pandemic levels.”  

“The removal of these travel restrictions is very much welcomed and appreciated with Black Friday and holiday shopping looming. This is a significant step toward rebuilding international visitation and reuniting our border towns,” said Corey Fram, Director of Tourism, 1000 Islands International Tourism Council. 

Effective October 1, 2022, all travellers, regardless of citizenship, will no longer have to submit public health information through the ArriveCAN app or website; provide proof of vaccination; undergo pre- or on-arrival testing; carry out COVID-19-related quarantine or isolation; or monitor and report if they develop signs or symptoms of COVID-19 upon arriving to Canada. 

Transport Canada is also removing existing travel requirements, meaning travellers will no longer be required to undergo health checks for travel on air and rail; or wear masks on planes and trains. 

Cruise measures are also being lifted, and travellers will no longer be required to have pre-board tests, be vaccinated, or use ArriveCAN. A set of guidelines will remain to protect passengers and crew, which will align with the approach used in the United States. 

Further information and the official Government of Canada update can be found here

All travellers are being reminded to make informed decisions when travelling outside of Canada and are encouraged to review the travel and health notices at 

For more information on Regional Tourism Organization 9 or South Eastern Ontario, visit or