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Canada Unveils Financial Incentives to Draw Conventions, Exhibitions

A large fund from the national government is now available to destinations making bids to host larger events from outside the country.

Over the next three years, Canadian cities that are making bids on conventions and trade shows from the U.S. and elsewhere can tap into a new $36.75 million (CA $50 million) fund to enhance their destination’s appeal to event decision-makers.

Approved on March 18 by the Canadian government, the International Convention Attraction Fund allows destinations to apply for up to $1 million in financial support to offset the costs of any “major international business event” hosted by a for-profit or non-profit organizer.

Here's how the program works: Before a Canadian city bids on hosting a large conference, convention, or exhibition, it can apply to the federal government for financial support that can be included in the bid. The following conditions apply:

• The event must be related to one of six business sectors: advanced manufacturing, agribusiness, digital industries, natural resources, life sciences, or finance/insurance.

• The event must qualify as a “citywide” by attracting a pre-defined minimum number of delegates that’s proportional to the inventory of the city’s hotels, event facilities, and wider hospitality infrastructure.

• There must be sufficient information to determine economic benefits to the region for hosting the event.

Within 30 days of receiving a destination’s request, the Canadian government’s tourism-marketing operation—known as Destination Canada—will calculate the funds that may be committed to a given event, based on a scoring system that assesses the overall value the event will bring to a destination. Destination Canada will then issue the destination a letter of support to include with its bid to the organizer, detailing the financial support.

If an organizer accepts the bid, the host city and Destination Canada will negotiate a partnership agreement. Funding will be released after the organizer completes the post-event reporting requirements.

If an event draws more than 75 percent of its anticipated attendees, the full amount of funding will be released to pay event costs. If attendance is between 50 and 75 percent of what was anticipated, that same percentage of funding will be released. And if an event draws less than 50 percent of the anticipated attendance set in the agreement, the funding will not be released.

The Canadian government estimates that the fund will generate CA $3.50 for every CA $1 invested, meaning that the expected boost to the Canadian economy is CA $175 million.

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