Explorers’ Edge Fiscal 24/25 Partnership Program

Since 2013, in addition to providing its core funding, the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport has allocated specific additional funds for the Regional Tourism Organization (RTO) to partner with tourism stakeholders on projects that align with the strategies and objectives identified in the RTO’s annual Business & Operational Plan (BOP). RTO12/Explorers’ Edge has administered over 265 successful partnerships region-wide since the inception of the additional funding.

The RTO will give priority to partnerships that coincide with objectives laid out in our 2024 – 2025 Business and Operational Plan.   The new Draft Business & Operational Plan (BOP) was developed for submission to the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Sport (MTCS), and is now awaiting approval from the Ministry. The BOP is required by the MTCS as part of the Transfer Payment (funding) Agreement, and it outlines the areas of work RTO12 will focus on, including required pillars set by the provincial government.

Click here for the Draft BOP Executive Summary

Partnerships will be first and foremost weighed against alignment with our ‘region-centric regenerative tourism approach’, thus creating innovative opportunities for industry sustainability, wider community development, and organization stability.  Furthermore, priority will be given to projects that support:

  • Shoulder Seasons
  • Events and Festivals
  • Workforce Development
  • Product Development


Potential partners must first fill out an intake form online to articulate their Partnership proposal. As an initial screening process, the online intake form will help identify criteria alignment and will trigger communication with the Administration Manager, who will then be in contact to flesh out the idea further. Once these steps have been achieved and if the proposal is strategically aligned, it will be presented to senior staff for consideration and development, followed by the RTO12 Board of Directors for discussion and final approval.

Please note that, due to Ministry requirements, the Partnership Program requires third-party execution and delivery of each project. As such, projects that are approved will need to meet the competitive process guidelines mandated by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport (i.e. a minimum of 3 written quotes sought before a partnership can be finalized, etc.).

Once a partnership is approved, a Memorandum of Understanding or Partner Agreement for a project-sharing scenario will be drawn up and signed, clearly articulating the project deliverables, partner roles and responsibilities, resource requirements, timelines, and performance measures. The minimum partner contribution to the agreed budget is 50%, as will be outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding or Partner Agreement.

It then requires four to six weeks to receive the necessary approvals from the RTO 12 Board of Directors and from the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism & Culture Industries. If approved, the RTO 12 will work closely with the partner to administer the project and to ensure that deliverables are met, and outcomes achieved.


Intake for 2024 – 2025 partnerships will be ongoing through September 2024.

Of note, partnership proposals will be reviewed on a ongoing basis. Feedback will be provided within a 45-day window of receiving the completed information. Additionally, no applications will be approved until the Explorers’ Edge has a signed 2024-2025 Transfer Payment Agreement with the Ministry Tourism, Culture & Sport.

The partnership budget allocated to Explorers’ Edge is estimated to be $166,000.00. Due to the high volume of partnership proposals received by RTO12, as well as the time required for vetting and execution, the cut off deadline for applying for Partnership funds is Friday, September 27, 2024 at 4pm. This could be altered based on amount of applications against the allocated budget.

Click here to access the intake form and to submit an initial Partnership Proposal for consideration.

Have further questions? Click here to visit our Frequently Asked Questions page for answers on some common questions regarding the program.

Need further assistance? Please contact Erin Smit, Administration Manager via email [email protected] or by phone (705) 646.0490.