TSUUT'INA NATION (Calgary, AB) March 9, 2022 The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) today kicked off the National Indigenous Tourism Conference (NITC) with a celebration highlighting local Indigenous dancers. The conference has united 350 Indigenous and non-Indigenous tourism leaders, including Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance Randy Boissonnault, in a focused conversation on how the Indigenous tourism sector will rebuild from the impacts of COVID-19.
Indigenous tourism brings economic stability, education, training, and job creation to communities that are often overlooked by our governments, said Keith Henry, President and CEO of ITAC. Its no secret that the pandemic has had and continues to have devastating impacts on our industry, but NITC provides an opportunity to unite with Indigenous and non-Indigenous tourism leaders and build back the industry better than it was before.
The conference runs from March 8-10 at the Grey Eagle Resort Casino on Tsuutina Nation lands in Calgary, Alberta. This years theme, Building Back Better, will see Indigenous operators, funding partners and industry supporters join a focused conversation on how the Indigenous tourism sector will rebuild from the impacts of COVID-19.
The Indigenous tourism experiences available here for Canadian and international travellers are unique in the world, said the Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance. 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. 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 sets Canada apart and attracts visitors from around the world. The Canadian economy will not fully recover until our tourism sector recovers.
The conference includes topics related to recovery and resilience and will focus on how the sector can work together to rebuild as the pandemic subsides. There will be hands-on workshops and breakout sessions with operators in key areas, and the Building Back Better plan will be rolled out in full detail so the industry can start to action it immediately. Click here for the full conference agenda.
We did the work to create the Building Back Better plan, continues Henry. Now we need the support of the industry and government to ensure were working hand-in-hand.
For more information on NITC, click here.
Individual businesses and Provincial/Territorial Indigenous Tourism Organizations will need to apply for repayable or non-repayable funding directly through their respective RDAs. Contributions to Indigenous entities (not generating profits) will normally be non-repayable. Indigenous applicants are invited to apply through the process described below:
- For communities in Atlantic Canada: Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA)
- For communities in Quebec: Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED)
- For communities in Canada's three territories: Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor)
- For communities in southern Ontario: Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario)
- For communities in northern Ontario: FedNor
- For communities in Western Canada: Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD)
Though Canadian domestic travel restrictions have begun easing, this funding has come at a crucial time as international borders remain closed and operators have nearly lost their second full summer season of business. While many businesses received initial non-repayable grants through ITAC in fall 2020, without a further influx of funding to offset these compounded losses, and the fact that ITAC was only allocated $2.4M of the requested $68.3M in the 2021 federal budget meaning they could not provide further financial support to their members their viability to survive the third wave was uncertain. After months of advocacy efforts by ITAC to secure the future of their operators, experiences and community members, this financial commitment by the Government specifically for Indigenous tourism businesses is welcomed by ITAC and showcases their recognition of Indigenous tourism as a vital part of the economy and the culture of the country.
About the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada
The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) is a national non-profit Indigenous tourism industry organization established in 2015. ITAC is the lead organization tasked with growing and promoting the Indigenous tourism industry across the country. Inspired by a vision for a thriving Indigenous tourism economy sharing authentic, memorable and enriching experiences, ITAC develops relationships with groups and regions with similar mandates to enable collective support, product development, promotion and marketing of authentic Indigenous tourism businesses in a respectful protocol.