Destination Canada (DC) and the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) have agreed to renew and expand their partnership through a signed memorandum of understanding (MOU); representing an important collaboration between the two organizations to support the recovery of the Indigenous tourism industry in Canada.
Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance, said: “The Indigenous tourism experiences available here for Canadian and international travellers are unique in the world. It is through respect and partnership that we will ensure that Indigenous tourism not only recovers from the pandemic, but meets its impressive growth potential.”
Minister Boissonnault continued: “The Government of Canada is proud to support Indigenous tourism businesses as we continue on the road to reconciliation, whether through financial assistance, technology or promotion in Canada and abroad. The quality and diversity of Indigenous tourism experiences promise unforgettable memories and opportunities for learning that set Canada apart and attract visitors from around the world. The Canadian economy will not fully recover until our tourism sector recovers.”
Prior to 2020, Indigenous tourism contributed an estimated $1.9 billion in revenue to Canada’s gross domestic product and employed 40,000 people. The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a devastating loss of revenue and months of uncertainty for the tourism sector – with Indigenous businesses being hit especially hard. Destination Canada’s pledge of $3.2M will support the recovery and growth of the Indigenous tourism sector.
Highlights of the MOU include:
- A minimum of $1M in-kind support for promotion in the USA and other international markets;
- $1.6M for Indigenous-led content creation by ITAC;
- $400K for content distribution domestically;
- $150K to enhance the Indigenous participation at Rendez-vous Canada (RVC);
- And $50K for the National Indigenous Tourism Conference (NITC).
Additionally, ITAC and DC will continue to work together to share and develop knowledge, complementary expertise and market intelligence.
Marsha Walden, Destination Canada CEO, observed that: “The pandemic triggered devastating losses and consequences for Indigenous tourism businesses across Canada. It has also set in motion other shifts and trends that present an opportunity. We know that demand for truly authentic Indigenous experiences is rapidly growing for both domestic and international travellers. Our work with ITAC will help strengthen the Indigenous tourism industry so that they can capture the recovery opportunity that lies ahead. We are enthused by the continued partnership and collaboration with ITAC, whose work is critical in supporting Indigenous tourism businesses across the country.”
It is important to have an Indigenous-led approach supporting the recovery of the Indigenous tourism industry in Canada. ITAC hopes this MOU will result in a co-developed strategy, more stability for strategic planning, documented planning processes incorporating research and analysis, and optimization of both organizations’ resources. Where tourism is welcomed by Indigenous peoples, it has the potential to create significant economic and social benefits as well as meaningfully support reconciliation through revitalization and sharing of languages, music, cuisine, arts and culture — with both Canadians and world travellers.
ITAC’s president and CEO, Keith Henry said: “This agreement solidifies the relationship we’ve had with Canada’s destination marketing association for years. What’s most important about this agreement is the positive effect it will have on Indigenous tourism businesses across Canada as they rebuild. Working in collaboration with powerful organizations like Destination Canada we hope will inspire continued collaboration between Indigenous organizations and provincial and national tourism associations across Canada.”
This collaboration is an important step giving the Indigenous tourism industry a much-needed boost to recover faster and build back better coming out of the pandemic, following ITAC’s 2022-25 Strategic Recovery Plan: Building Back Better. This partnership will provide crucial support to Indigenous tourism businesses from coast to coast to coast generating increased revenue, jobs and pride across the country demonstrating reconciliation in action.