ITBC Research Reveals A Path To Success

Newly released research by Indigenous Tourism BC (ITBC) reveals significant growth in British Columbia’s Indigenous tourism industry.

The multi-pronged initiative includes labour market research, labour strategy and a guide all focused on Indigenous tourism.

The “Indigenous Tourism Labour Market Research: Roots to a Future Research Findings 2020-21,” the “BC Indigenous Tourism Strategic Plan,” and “Wise Ways: A Guide of Smart Practices to Attracting and Retaining Indigenous Talent” was a project originally launched in November 2019 in response to a critical labour shortage and growing demand for labour in the Indigenous and non-Indigenous tourism industry.

The project is funded by the Province of British Columbia and Government of Canada through the Sector Labour Market Partnerships program.

Melanie Mark, BC’s Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, pointed out that: “Indigenous Tourism is one of the fastest growing parts of the tourism sector and we want to ensure businesses have people to do the work so they can continue to grow.”

The Minister continued: “Creating tools to attract, train and retain Indigenous people to obtain critically important jobs in the tourism sector can advance economic and cultural reconciliation and increased understanding for our culture and practices by visitors near and far.”

ITBC’s research report shows there were 488 Indigenous tourism businesses in British Columbia in early 2020. These businesses were employing 4,248 people, with a potential of inspiring another 14,500 Indigenous people to build careers in the tourism industry.

The research report, strategy and smart practice guide will support a path to build on this success and create growth for Indigenous tourism employment.

Brenda Baptiste, ITBC Chair, observes: “We were preparing for continued growth with this project when the global COVID-19 pandemic was announced. In the footsteps of our ancestors, we shifted our focus to strategies to support Indigenous people and Indigenous tourism businesses to navigate the pandemic and devastating impacts on the tourism industry.”

The research report follows the Literature review, which summarizes studies and research on the Indigenous tourism labour force.

The Indigenous Tourism Labour Strategy outlines strategic approaches and partnerships, training and recruitment supports for Indigenous people, while the “Wise Ways” guide offers ideas on how to recruit and hire Indigenous staff and build a workplace that retains Indigenous talent.

Said Baptiste: “Our industry has experienced incredible success over the past several years, and we anticipate employment returning to 2019 levels by 2024. ITBC will ensure Indigenous tourism experiences and First Nations have the capacity to grow our industry and continue to showcase our culture, history and story that make British Columbia truly unique among global tourism destinations.”

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