It seems more than fitting that on Indigenous People’s Day (June 21), the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) is launching a new campaign, The Original Original.
The new campaign is aimed at educating travellers, modernizing their perception of Indigenous experiences and rebuilding the Indigenous tourism industry – disproportionately devasted by the pandemic.
Keith Henry, president and CEO of ITAC, explained that: “Our greater mandate at ITAC is to leverage tourism to help support the revitalization and broader understanding of Indigenous culture in a way that contributes positively to Indigenous communities.”
Henry continued: “The Original Original mark supports this mandate by helping travellers better distinguish and support authentic businesses, and lift our voices.”
And ITAC’s boss added: “The Original Original campaign is a reflection of our communities as they really are: diverse, authentic, empowered and current.”
A key component of The Original Original is a new brand mark that will help travellers better identify and book experiences from Indigenous owned tourism businesses across Canada.
It identifies tourism businesses that have been vetted by ITAC including four key criteria:
- The business is at least 51% Indigenous owned
- It’s a business that embraces the values of Indigenous tourism
- It offers a market or export ready experience
- Is a member of ITAC
The artwork of the Original Original mark explores the ethos of this very concept by placing two letter Os within each other, representing the world, as well as the cycle of life.
At the centre of these circles is a fire symbol that possesses a single flame, but is divided into three parts.
This distinction represents each of the three groups of Indigenous Peoples in Canada:
- First Nation
Through this branded mark, ITAC aims to further develop wide-spread recognition of authentic Indigenous experiences across the country.
Said Henry: “We are thrilled to officially roll-out The Original Original film and poster series, a collection of striking imagery that visually encapsulates the spirit of Indigenous travel experiences across Canada.”
ITAC’s boss continued: “We invite people to view these and share with their friends and family to help get the word out. Indigenous Peoples continue to provide transformative visitor experiences. An up to date list of Indigenous experiences that are currently open or closed can be found at www.DestinationIndigenous.ca. Now is the time to come together as one and celebrate our connection to this vast country.”
The Indigenous tourism industry was disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Prior to March 2020, Indigenous tourism was a fast-growing industry, which brought an estimated $1.9 billion in revenue to Canada’s gross domestic product. At that time, there were an estimated 40,000 Indigenous tourism employees and 1,900 Indigenous-led businesses. Today there are an estimated 15,000 employees and 1,000 businesses left.
Canadians interested in helping to rebuild the Indigenous tourism industry can do so by visiting Indigenous tourism destinations from coast to coast to coast at www.destinationIndigenous.ca to book an Indigenous experience and/or by sharing the campaign posters and videos.
Throughout the summer and fall, additional elements of The Original Original campaign will be released, so, stay tuned.
For this domestic marketing campaign, ITAC is pleased to have the support of Destination Canada to further enhance and promote Indigenous tourism operators from coast to coast to coast, reminding consumers of the authentic, beautiful and culturally significant experiences available to enjoy throughout the country as the industry looks to recover from the effects of the pandemic.
Main Photo – Marilyn Jensen – Dakhka Khwaan Dancers – Credit Peter Mather – First Nations Tourism – supplied by ITAC
Video – Provided Courtesy of ITAC
Second Photo – Mahikan Trails – Brenda Holder – Credit – ITAC
Third Photo – QAT – Mestokosho – Maisondela Culture – Innue – Luc Leclerc – Provided by ITAC
Fourth Photo – Soloeyes – Courtesy of ITAC