A Long-Awaited Gathering

Now underway in Calgary (March 8 to March 10),  the National Indigenous Tourism Conference is the first collective, in-person gathering of Indigenous tourism stakeholders and members of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) since an international conference in Kelowna in November 2019.

Over 300 delegates, including ITAC member companies, tourism industry sponsors and DMOs from across Canada, have come to the Grey Eagle Resort & Casino in Calgary for the gathering, reports Press Today’s Ted Davis, who is attending the conference.

They are attending a packed agenda of presentations, workshops and panels all under the guiding strategy of Building Back Better. Under that umbrella theme, they are, for example, learning how businesses in the indigenous tourism sector have dealt with the COVID-19 impacts of closed borders, health orders and capacity limits and have made fundamental changes to their operations to weather the pandemic.

An important theme at the conference is role of Indigenous tourism in the process of reconciliation.

This is being addressed in a panel presentation that will look at how Indigenous tourism is playing a vital role in sharing First Nations culture. “Experiencing Indigenous tourism first-hand is an important way for non-Indigenous Canadians to gain a new perspective. It helps them connect to the lands, traditions and way of life of Indigenous peoples, while also having a positive impact on Indigenous economic growth,” says the conference agenda materials.

Sustainable tourism goals are also a key pillar of the conference, and these draw on principles that are already part of Indigenous communities and tourism firms. As such, one session is celebrating the stories of sustainable tourism in the Indigenous sector, as well as offering information on how the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals can aid in business and long-term sustainability planning.

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Welcoming delegates to the opening night reception of National Indigenous Tourism Conference was Keith Henry, president of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, and Marilyn Jensen, member of the board of directors of the ITAC.