In last week’s federal budget, the government committed $24.8 million over two years to support Indigenous tourism.
The funding will support the creation of a new Indigenous Tourism Fund and provide $4.8M to support ITAC’s operations, which continue to help the Indigenous tourism industry rebuild and recover from the pandemic.
Indigenous tourism in Canada continues to face its most challenging times, but ITAC remains committed to preserving the legacies created by its partners prior to the pandemic and ensuring the industry’s long-term sustainability.
Although ITAC’s 3-year $65M strategic recovery plan, Building Back Better: Strategic Recovery of Indigenous Tourism in Canada 2022-2025, was not prioritized in the trimmed down Budget 2022, similar to many other tourism initiatives across this country, ITAC will continue to work with government and its funding partners to advocate for Indigenous-led solutions for the recovery of the Indigenous tourism industry.
ITAC indicated that it was pleased to see that within the very balanced Budget 2022 there is significant support towards the Indigenous tourism industry in Canada. The budget also outlines strong measures to reduce financial stress for Indigenous tour operators.
That support includes:
- A proposed plan to provide $4.8 million over two years, starting in 2022-23, to ITAC to support its national operations, which will continue to strive for a thriving Indigenous tourism economy sharing authentic, memorable and enriching experiences.
- A proposed plan, which ITAC advocated heavily for, to provide $20 million over two years, starting in 2022-23, in support of a new Indigenous Tourism Fund to help the Indigenous tourism industry recover from the pandemic and position itself for long-term, sustainable growth.
- A proposed plan, which is extremely meaningful to the Indigenous tourism sector, to forgive up to 50% of the COVID-Indigenous Business Initiative loans that supported businesses in need during the pandemic. This action will help ensure that Indigenous-owned businesses are positioned for long-term success.
Commenting on the 2022 budget, ITAC’s president and CEO, Keith Henry said that; “ITAC appreciates the federal government’s support for the Indigenous tourism industry as it tries to recover from COVID-19. We are grateful to the Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance, Randy Boissonnault, for the ongoing collaboration to develop systems and targeted solutions for the Indigenous tourism industry over the past year.”
Henry continued: “We acknowledge the hardships and resilience our communities have faced these past two years and know there is still a long road ahead, but rest assured that ITAC will work diligently with its partners to execute a meaningful and vigilant recovery plan.”
ITAC’s Building Back Better plan is still working towards returning to pre-COVID-19 levels by 2025, but without the necessary funds to support the plan it will be extremely challenging. ITAC remains steadfast in its approach to advocate for the future of Indigenous tourism as it set out to do in 2015 and will continue to explore other opportunities and funding initiatives outlined in the 304-page document, Budget 2022.
Said Henry: “We are looking forward to seeing what the Indigenous Tourism Fund will be comprised of. We will work very closely with the Minister’s team to make sure Indigenous-led solutions are prioritized and that tangible and meaningful solutions are put forward to the benefits of our Indigenous entrepreneurs.”
And he concluded: “There is still so much uncertainty and a lot left at stake but Budget 2022 does show some real wins for our sector. We will continue to support the recovery of our industry as much as we can, with what we have.“