The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) is pleased with this week’s announcement that the Canadian government is investing a minimum of $50 million from the Tourism Relief Fund (TRF) in Indigenous tourism projects.
ITAC president and CEO, Keith Henry said that: “The Government of Canada demonstrated their commitment to the importance of investing in Indigenous tourism in Canada.”
Henry continued: “This is a very significant direct commitment for Indigenous tourism businesses, Indigenous Tourism Provincial/Territorial Partners and the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada. We are working out the two-year implementation details and will be moving quickly to support our Indigenous tourism industry recovery and rebuild.”
The aforementioned investment is part of a total commitment of $500 million in the TRF to support the tourism industry overall, of which $485 million will be delivered by Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) directly to tourism businesses and organizations to help aid in the creation of new tourism experiences, or enhance existing ones.
Of this $500 million, a minimum of 10% will be invested in Indigenous tourism projects ($50M). Additionally, $15M has been allocated in part to support national ITAC projects.
Individual businesses and Provincial/Territorial Indigenous Tourism Organizations will need to apply for repayable or non-repayable funding directly through their respective RDAs. Contributions to Indigenous entities (not generating profits) will normally be non-repayable.
Indigenous applicants are invited to apply through the process described below.:
- For communities in Atlantic Canada: Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA)
- For communities in Quebec: Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED)
- For communities in Canada’s three territories: Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor)
- For communities in southern Ontario: Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario)
- For communities in northern Ontario: FedNor
- For communities in Western Canada: Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD)
And while Canadian domestic travel restrictions have begun easing, this funding has come at a crucial time as international borders remain closed and operators have nearly lost their second full summer season of business.
While many businesses received initial non-repayable grants through ITAC in fall 2020, without a further influx of funding to offset these compounded losses, and the fact that ITAC was only allocated $2.4M of the requested $68.3M in the 2021 federal budget – meaning they could not provide further financial support to their members – their viability to survive the third wave was uncertain.
After months of advocacy efforts by ITAC to secure the future of their operators, experiences and community members, this financial commitment by the Government specifically for Indigenous tourism businesses is welcomed by ITAC and showcases their recognition of Indigenous tourism as a vital part of the economy and the culture of the country.