A new tourism “incubator” is being tested out in Windsor-Essex this year, with plans to expand to other regions of the province in years to come.

The initiative is being led by Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, with support from a broad range of partners in the tourism and local business community.

“We are proud to be the first region in Ontario and a Founding Partner for this initiative, leading tourism innovation in the province and showcasing what we have to offer and where we can take you,” said Gordon Orr, CEO of Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island.

The goal of the Tourism Innovation Lab is to find, foster and support new tourism ideas, experiences and collaborative partnerships that will enhance the region’s current offerings, motivate travel and increase visits.

The Lab’s “Spark” program will match some participants with a tourism industry mentor, while also providing a $3,000 grant to launch their idea to the next level of development.

“Providing tourism mentors and a source of start-up financial support is critical to nurturing innovators and ideas that will grow tourism and economic prosperity in our region,” said Lori Atkinson, Regional Manager, Essex Kent and Coach.

This is the first program of its kind for tourism development in the province.

“The positive response from our partners and supporters has inspired us,” said Justin Lafontaine, Project Lead for the Ontario Tourism Innovation Lab. “Through those networks, we are looking forward to receiving applications from all corners of our region and our diverse communities.”

Applications from individuals, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations based in The City of Windsor and/or the County of Essex will be accepted up until Aug. 1, 2018. After a review process, the top applicants will be invited to a pitch session in October where the 2018 program participants will be selected.