RTO6 Announces Support for Tourism Recovery in York, Durham and Headwaters

News Release

For Immediate Release

RTO6 delivers over $8 million for 118 businesses and organizations, with support from the Government of Canada’s Tourism Relief Fund, to attract visitors and support future growth

December 5, 2022 – Courtice, Ontario – Today, Central Counties Tourism announced support for 118 tourism businesses and organizations in York, Durham and Headwaters to recover from the pandemic and prepare for future growth.

RTO6 received $8.65 million through the Government of Canada’s Tourism Relief Fund, delivered by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), to help local tourism organizations and businesses safely welcome back visitors, recover from the impacts of the pandemic, create jobs and prepare for future growth.

This includes Heartwood Farm & Cidery who is receiving $50,000 to expand its overnight guest capacity with the installation of additional prospector tent accommodations, tripling the current occupancy. Funding will also go toward infrastructure enhancements such as path clearing and fencing, guest facility upgrades, new hands-on programming, workshops and farm tours, and the marketing of these offerings.

Please see the backgrounder for information on all 118 projects receiving support. 


“Our government is happy to invest $78 -million through the Tourism Relief Fund to help communities across southern Ontario rejuvenate local tourist attractions. With this funding, southern Ontario’s Regional Tourism Organizations and Indigenous Tourism Ontario are providing hundreds of local businesses and organizations with the support they need to create jobs, attract more visitors and grow local economies, now and into the future.”

  • Filomena Tassi, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

“The Canadian tourism sector continues to be one of the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are fully committed to supporting businesses and organizations through these challenging times, keeping safety as the top priority while ensuring they get support to quickly recover, innovate their products and services, and thrive. The Tourism Relief Fund will help businesses/organizations adapt, make improvements, and be ready to welcome back guests. It also feeds into a broader strategy to help the sector survive the pandemic, recover and grow. The Canadian economy will not fully recover until our tourism sector recovers.”

  • The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance

“The visitor economy creates thriving, vibrant communities across Ontario. Visitors bring new money into a community and for many businesses in York, Durham and Headwaters, these additional revenues can mean the difference between staying solvent and having to shutter their doors forever. Central Counties Tourism applauds the Government of Canada for recognizing the importance of growing our collective capacity to welcome and entertain visitors. Its investment in tourism is helping municipalities and individual businesses build compelling destinations that will attract visitors and residents alike. The economic impact from the Tourism Relief Fund will be felt for years.”

  • Chuck Thibeault, Executive Director, Central Counties Tourism

“As a regenerative farm and cidery, we aim to balance visitor impact on the land and deliver the best experience possible to our guests. The funds we receive through the Tourism Relief Fund will allow us to build our visitor capacity, strengthen new revenue streams, and expand our current offerings while maintaining the agricultural integrity of the farm. We’ve worked closely with Central Counties Tourism throughout the pandemic to leverage the support provided. Having additional financial support from higher levels of government will have tremendous impact on our ability grow and thrive.”

  • Val Steinmann, Owner, Heartwood Farm & Cidery

Quick facts

  • Central Counties Tourism not-for-profit regional tourism organization is funded by the Ontario Government and responsible for supporting more than 2,000 tourism-related business in the York, Durham and Headwaters regions through the promotion and development of unique and competitive tourism products that attract high-yield visitors from outside the Central Counties region.
  • Heartwood Farm & Cidery is a regenerative farm and small-batch craft cider producer offering visitors tastings, food and drink experiences, interactive farm tours and immersive overnight farm stays in Ontario’s Greenbelt near the Village of Erin.
  • $500-million Tourism Relief Fund is helping tourism-oriented businesses and organizations recover from the pandemic and prepare for future growth. FedDev Ontario is delivering nearly $120 million of the Tourism Relief Fund across southern Ontario.

Associated Links


Chuck Thibeault

Executive Director

Central Counties Tourism


Val Steinmann


Heartwood Farm & Cidery


Edward Hutchinson

Press Secretary

Office of the Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario


About Heartwood Farm & Cidery

Heartwood Farm & Cidery is a 42-acre regenerative farm located adjacent to Ontario’s greenbelt near the Village of Erin. The farm and cidery operate as a diverse ecosystem of mixed livestock pasture, fruit and nut orchards, sugarbush, and wetlands. Established in 2017, Heartwood offers visitors seasonally diverse, behind-the-scenes farm experiences, farm-crafted cider tastings, and immersive overnight farm stay experiences. The cidery offers small-batch craft ciders using fresh-from-the-farm and locally sourced ingredients that can be tasted and enjoyed on the farm or at home.

About Central Counties Tourism

Central Counties Tourism (CCT) was established as a regional tourism organization in 2010 under a framework developed by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Its mandate is to identify sustainable best product and practices that will build a stronger and more competitive tourism industry within the York, Durham, and Headwaters regions. CCT is funded by the Ontario Government and managed as a not-for-profit organization by a voluntary tourism industry board. CCT’s mission is to increase tourism in the region by promoting and developing unique and competitive tourism products that attract high yield visitors from outside the Central Counties region.

About FedDev Ontario

For 13 years, the Government of Canada, through FedDev Ontario, has worked to advance and diversify the southern Ontario economy through funding opportunities and business services that support innovation, growth and job creation in Canada’s most populous region. The Agency has delivered impressive results, which can be seen in southern Ontario businesses that are creating innovative technologies, improving productivity, growing revenues, creating jobs, and in the economic advancement of communities across the region. Learn more about the impacts the Agency is having in southern Ontario by exploring our pivotal projects, our Southern Ontario Spotlight, and FedDev Ontario’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Government of Canada

Central Counties is located North of Toronto


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Chuck Thibeault

Executive Director, Chuck Thibeault