Tourism Return-to-Work Grant Program

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The goal of the $100 million Tourism Return-to-Work Grant Program is to help support employment growth among businesses that attract and support tourism and suffered economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Grants will provide a financial incentive for businesses to hire workers, as well as financial assistance.

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Detailed eligibility criteria will be released by Empire State Development in the coming weeks.

In general, eligibility for the program will be limited to tourism businesses, concentrated in the Leisure and Hospitality sector. 

Eligible business types are expected to include, but not be limited to:

  • Hotels
  • Art and cultural organizations
  • Entertainment businesses
  • Amusement businesses
  • Scenic and sightseeing tour operators
  • Other tourism businesses

As a job creation-focused program, a wide range of for-profit and non-profit tourism businesses are expected to be eligible, provided:

  • Businesses are able to demonstrate an economic hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • Businesses increase their total number of employees during the calendar year 2022 compared with 2021.

Grant details:

  • Businesses will be eligible for grants of up to $5,000 per net new full-time employee increase, and up to $2,500 per net new part-time employee increase during 2022.
  • Employment increases will be based on total employment and not specific individual employees; i.e., the position is not required to re-hire the same individual, as long as the company backfills any departing workers with new workers.

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How to Apply

ESD expects to release additional information on the program’s terms and conditions in the coming weeks.

Beginning in 2022, awarded businesses will then be required to submit paperwork for reimbursement based on their demonstrated hiring achievements.

To receive email program updates, sign up here.