COAST SALISH TERRITORY (Vancouver, BC) –  June 23, 2020 –  The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) is pleased to receive $1.95 million for their sales and marketing recovery budget, thanks to an enduring partnership with Destination Canada.  

Since 2015, Destination Canada and ITAC have exchanged knowledge, expertise and market intelligence; facilitated, educated and consulted together on product readiness.  Destination Canada has also assisted ITAC in connecting travel trade to export-ready products through available programs while cooperating in marketing programs in countries of mutual interest.

“Canada’s tourism sector has been hit hard by COVID-19, and Indigenous tourism has been particularly affected,” says the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages. “Indigenous tourism operators welcome visitors to the lands they’ve called home for millennia, and it’s not hard to see why this was the fastest-growing part of our tourism industry before the crisis. This investment will help Indigenous tourism come back strong, supporting good jobs and playing a key role in our economic recovery.”

“This additional funding is critical for ITAC to support the recovery of the Indigenous tourism industry across Canada,” says ITAC’s President and CEO, Keith Henry. “These funds will not only support a national awareness campaign, they will also be distributed to our provincial and territorial Indigenous members to support their own local and regional marketing efforts.” 

This additional funding comes in time to support and enhance ITAC’s Destination Indigenous marketing campaign.  Destination Indigenous includes the release of a new experience booking web platform that will link travellers with export-ready Indigenous tourism businesses who are welcoming visitors this summer; a series of Zoom backgrounds showcasing Indigenous-experience imagery from each province and territory; and a video campaign called Virtually Yours to entice Canadian travellers.

Helping Indigenous tourism recover and become more resilient heading into summer is critical. Prior to 2020, Indigenous Tourism across Canada:

  • was outpacing all other tourism sectors in Canada for growth; 
  • was one of the largest single employers and economic drivers of Indigenous communities;  
  • contributed more than $1.6B annually to Canada’s direct GDP (in 2019; up from $1.4B in 2015)

Without significant financial and marketing support, Indigenous tourism operators are forecasted to go out of business before the end of the (non-existent) summer season with potential losses of $1.4B in GDP Contribution and more than 20,000 job losses.

“Indigenous visitor experiences are very important to our national tourism brand,” says David Robinson, Interim President and CEO, Destination Canada. “We value our partnership and the expertise ITAC brings to product development and marketing. Providing this needed support not only helps our sector but is also key to the recovery of local economies across the country including in many rural communities.”

ITAC thanks Destination Canada, the Honourable Minister Joly, the Honourable Minister Bennett and the Honourable Minister Miller, and their teams for continuing to listen and respond to the unique needs of the Indigenous tourism industry across Canada.

“More than ever, the tourism industry needs to work collaboratively and support each other, while reminding Canadians of the amazing cultural experiences available in their own backyards,” says Henry.