The program will see those who book a minimum two-night stay at participating hotels receive a $100 VISA card that is geo-targeted to only be used at businesses within city limits, including online sales.
“That was a key piece to this project. We’re funding it so it’s really important that if we’re going to fund it, the money tries to stay in our community,” Natalie Wakabayashi, director of culture and entertainment tourism told Global News.
“And when we did it in the fall and had a really successful pilot project, the money was really spent with the hotels and stayed with the hotels. And one of the key pieces we noticed was: how do we help our other tourism partners that aren’t just accommodation partners?”
The initial pilot project was launched in October and saw those who book a two-night stay at a participating hotel given a promotional code to comp the cost of the second night, with Tourism London paying the hotel the full equivalent amount.
The pilot was cut short when London entered red under Ontario’s reopening framework in mid-December 2020.
“When we ended it, my email just blew up,” Wakabayashi said.
“I had so many people emailing saying ‘I wanted to participate. It ended early. How do I get involved? Will you do it again?’ And so it was pretty evident immediately that we needed to look at how we could be bringing it back for 2021 and what could it do to be more inclusive in the city.”
Mayor Ed Holder touched upon the campaign during Monday’s COVID-19 update with the Middlesex-London Health Unit.
“We encourage folks to treat themselves and friends with that kind of an opportunity,” he said.
“Thanks again, London. Thanks for caring as much as you do for your support of local business. And thanks for your support by getting your shots and your second shots. We’re doing this together and I’m extremely proud.”
The 2021 version, which involves gift cards in order to extend support to local businesses, is already underway and runs until November 30, 2021, covering stays booked between now and the end of the year.
Full details and a list of participating hotels can be found on Tourism London’s website.
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— with files from Global News’ Matthew Trevithick.
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