The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) is partnering with Tourism Saskatchewan to create a new tourism association — Indigenous Destinations Saskatchewan.
Indigenous Destinations Saskatchewan will provide valuable leadership, product development and marketing support for Indigenous tourism businesses throughout the province and further develop the industry to create a sustainable, viable Indigenous tourism economy.
Keith Henry, President and Chief Executive Officer, ITAC, said: “The Indigenous cultural experiences across Saskatchewan are some of the most diverse and dynamic found in Canada. Indigenous Destinations Saskatchewan, together with Tourism Saskatchewan and ITAC, will grow Indigenous tourism to be an even larger contributor to the local economy while supporting the values, interests and needs of our Indigenous communities.”
The new association will work toward the Saskatchewan Indigenous Tourism Strategy 2020-2025: “Growing Saskatchewan’s Indigenous Tourism Opportunity”, which was designed to create an appreciation of culture, heritage, and land, while growing and supporting sustainable businesses, and jobs.
The strategy includes the following goals:
- Increase number of sustainable market-ready Indigenous-owned tourism businesses by 20% by 2025, with a goal of 90 authentic Indigenous tourism businesses in Saskatchewan by 2026.
- Increase number of Indigenous tourism jobs from 3,608 by 4% per year to 4,220 by 2026.
- Increase Indigenous tourism revenues economic output and GDP by 2026.
Kelly Fidler, Co-Chair, Indigenous Destinations Saskatchewan, said: “We are pleased to see the official launch of Indigenous Destinations Saskatchewan become a reality. Furthermore, our new Association acknowledges the growing interest and demand for Indigenous tourism experiences as a tremendous opportunity for these businesses across the province.”
Annie Charles, Co-Chair, Indigenous Destinations Saskatchewan, said: “Indigenous Destinations Saskatchewan is delighted to work with ITAC to recover and build resiliency for the Indigenous tourism industry in Saskatchewan. This new partnership enables the Association to align itself with ITAC to market and develop Indigenous tourism experiences in this province.”
Saskatchewan is Homeland of the Metis and home to 74 First Nation communities. Approximately 17 per cent of Saskatchewanians identify as Indigenous, providing a vast opportunity to create and promote transformational Indigenous tourism experiences for visitors.
The Conference Board of Canada indicates that the Saskatchewan Indigenous tourism industry contributed $106 million to the provincial GDP in 2019 and while the COVID-19 pandemic set back the industry, it is predicted to that demand for authentic, distinct, immersive travel experiences will rise over the next several years.
The growing interest in Indigenous tourism experiences provides the opportunity to improve the socio-economic environment for Indigenous Peoples throughout the province.
In February 2020, Tourism Saskatchewan and the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to collaboratively support Indigenous tourism development in Saskatchewan.
Tourism Saskatchewan will play a significant role in growing the Indigenous tourism industry in the province and supporting current operators towards market/export readiness.
CEO Jonathan Potts said: “Tourism Saskatchewan recognizes the importance of Indigenous tourism and the diversity of cultures, historical events, stories, and landscapes that are unique to the province. Our organization looks forward to working alongside Indigenous Destinations Saskatchewan and advancing Indigenous tourism in our province, while supporting the values, interests and needs of our Indigenous communities.”
In the photo
Seen here, from l to r, are ITAC’s Keith Henry; ITAC’s Director of Development, Tara Saunders; and Tourism Saskatchewan CEO, Jonathan Potts.