ITAC reflects on how far Indigenous tourism has come, and where the industry is going

As we get ready to welcome the return of summer – and with it the international visitors so critical to our Indigenous tourism economy – there is no better time than now to acknowledge the progress we have achieved. Tourism Week 2023 is an annual celebration of Canada’s tourism partners, and many came together April 24-30, 2023, to champion and promote destinations, tourism businesses, and employees; from coast to coast to coast.

Tourism Week 2023’s theme is Canada: Powered By Tourism, reminding us how vital this industry is to Canada’s economic and cultural fabric. Pre-pandemic, Indigenous tourism became a force — contributing $1.9 billion to Canada’s GDP and employing 39,000 people in the industry. With the hard work of our partners and the continuation of our advocacy work ITAC expects to progress even further. Our goal is for Canada to become a global leader in Indigenous tourism by 2030.

Formally established in 2015, ITAC aims to support the growth of Indigenous tourism by creating partnerships between associations, organizations, government departments, and industry leaders. Our established membership process enables Indigenous tourism industry partners to engage and show support for Indigenous tourism. In 2018 ITAC ran its first membership drive and welcomed 118 Indigenous-owned members, today there are 1,100+ members.

Since 2014, Indigenous tourism in Canada has quickly expanded and has helped propel several Indigenous businesses. This has included Indigenous-owned accommodations and Indigenous-led experiences to Indigenous owned and operated restaurants. In fact, prior to COVID-19, Indigenous tourism was the fasted growing industry. According to research, Indigenous tourism experiences satisfy the growing consumer desire to seek authentic stories of diversity and products offered by diverse groups. Moreover, from 2014-2022, by taking a nationally coordinated approach to development and marketing, the Indigenous tourism industry in Canada has seen increased investments of 493% since 2014.

Looking ahead to 2030, ITAC’s vision includes increasing the annual direct contributions of the Indigenous tourism industry to GDP to $6 billion and creating 21,000 new jobs, bringing the total number of Indigenous tourism jobs to 60,000. Additionally, ITAC aims to increase the number of Indigenous tourism businesses to 2,700.

I love the work we do with Indigenous tourism across this country. There has never been a more important time for reconciliation and for sharing our culture. It’s our time to continue contributing to this great industry and to celebrate all the creative and hardworking people who are the heart of tourism.

Learn more about ITAC’s 2030 Vision through this video.