FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government is investing $222,000 in the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick to develop a training program for the tourism industry.

“Through this pilot project, I look forward to increasing access to training for small businesses in this industry,” said Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Donald Arseneault. “Investments in training can translate into significant gains in skills and job performance, and we want to support this growth in all industries.”

The funding will support a partnership between the association and the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation to research, develop and pilot a training model. Many people in New Brunswick’s tourism, accommodations, and food sectors work for small businesses with limited access to workplace training.

“Tourism not only brings visitors to our province, but investment, too,” said Tourism, Heritage and Culture Minister John Ames. “We are fortunate in our province to have innovative and passionate business leaders who strive to deliver world-class experiences to our visitors.”

The pilot project, which continues until March 2017, will deliver customized training to groups of small businesses with similar needs. The intention is to include six firms and 24 participants across two or three groups to ensure the model and resources are beneficial to participating businesses.

“The Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick is thrilled to have the opportunity to develop an innovative, cluster-based training model targeted at the province’s small tourism businesses,” said association president Kathy Weir. “New Brunswick does not have programs that target these specific training needs. This project aims to reduce the challenges of an employee participating in training while also managing regular business operations.”

The tourism industry employs 31,850 people and contributes $522 million annually to the provincial GDP. For every public dollar spent marketing the province, there is a return of $3.50 which supports education, health care and social programs.