Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization (OHTO) delivers over $3.6 million to 61 businesses and organizations, with support from the Government of Canada’s Tourism Relief Fund, to attract visitors and support future growth.  (la version française suivra.)

Beachburg, ON (October 12th,  2022) – Today, Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization (OHTO) announced support for 61 tourism businesses and organizations in Ontario’s Highlands to recover from the pandemic and prepare for future growth.

Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization received $3.67 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, PuppetsUp!, who is receiving $75,000 to add additional programming to the festival after a six-year hiatus. PuppetsUp! welcomed back crowds of visitors to the streets of Almonte. Attendees were delighted by daily parades, street performers and local and international puppet theatre performances.

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


“The Government of Canada’s $78-million investment through the Tourism Relief Fund is helping communities across southern Ontario. 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.” 
   –    The Honourable 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 will work with businesses and organizations through these challenging times, ensuring they get support to innovate in their products and services as well as to grow and thrive, all while keeping safety as the top priority. The Tourism Relief Fund helps businesses adapt to welcome back guests safely. It also feeds into a broader strategy to help the sector recover from the pandemic and build an economy that works for everyone. The Canadian economy will not fully recover until our tourism sector recovers.”
   –    The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance

“We are extremely grateful to be working alongside FedDev Ontario to deliver this much-needed funding to our tourism industry. We are a region full of resilient and innovative operators and organizations who care deeply about their communities. This funding support enables them to provide elevated experiences to visitors and re-ignite the spirit of our region.”
   –    Nicole Whiting, Executive Director, Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization

“Puppets Up! Has a long history of bringing tourists to Almonte, and the benefit is felt all across Mississippi Mills and, indeed, across all of Lanark County. This funding will help us expand our reach and really showcase everything that this corner of Eastern Ontario has to offer.”
   –    Jane Torrance, Executive Director, Puppets Up!

Quick Facts

  • OHTO is moving towards developing the region through the lens of responsible tourism – focusing on the pillars of inclusivity, community alignment and sustainability.
  • In 2021 OHTO delivered $1.2 million to 93 businesses and organizations through the TRIP – Capital Projects funded by FedDev Ontario to help these operators offer a safer visitor experience.
  • The Puppets Up! International Puppet Festival takes place in August, in historic downtown Almonte, which is part of Mississippi Mills in Lanark County.
  • Puppets Up! features 13 performers and troupes from across Canada and around the world, providing 65 performances of world-class puppet artistry and family-friendly entertainment.
  • The Government of Canada’s $306-million investment in OHTO is part of an over $78-million investment for ITO and RTOs in southern Ontario.
  • The Government of Canada’s $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


Joe Boughner
Public Affairs Coordinator
Puppets Up!

Kate Evans
Industry Partnerships and Funding Coordinator
Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization

Edward Hutchinson
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

About PuppetsUp!
From 2005 until 2016, the PuppetsUp! International Festival brought some of the best and most innovative puppetry from around the world to the streets of Almonte. Puppets Up! was started by a group of fun people in Almonte (inspired and led by Noreen Young, the visionary puppet creator behind “Hi Diddle Day” and “Under The Umbrella Tree”) who wanted to entertain and inform people about the varied and vibrant art of puppetry, something common to virtually all cultures. During its initial run, the festival drew crowds from across the country and around the world to see puppeteers and street formers perform in intimate theatres and against the backdrop of Almonte’s historic main street. 2022 marks the return of this beloved festival, with a mix of well-established puppet performers and some up and coming talent from across Canada and around the world.

About OHTO
Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization (OHTO) is a not-for-profit organization mandated and funded by the province of Ontario to support tourism within the counties of Haliburton, Lanark, and Renfrew and portions of Frontenac, Hastings, and Lennox and Addington. OHTO’s mandate is to build and support a competitive tourism region, known as Ontario’s Highlands, through marketing, funding opportunities, education and product development. OHTO functions in partnership with established and recognized tourism organizations, municipalities and entities within the region to move forward in a spirit of cooperation and collaboration. Learn more at www.ohto.ca .

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 TwitterFacebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.



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