The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) is working in Alberta to create a provincial Indigenous tourism organization lead by the Indigenous community. Tourism is an $8.3B industry in Alberta and creates more than 127,000 jobs in the province.
From May 15 to June 2, 2017 ITAC hosted a series of eight Indigenous tourism forums in Alberta offered at the following locations: Fort McMurray, Fort Chipewyan, Enoch, Lac La Biche, Slave Lake, Hinton, Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park and Lethbridge.
Attending the events were Indigenous tourism business owners & entrepreneurs, Indigenous community leaders, economic development officers, Elders, Youth as well as program partners and supporting agencies. The forums addressed how businesses and community can overcome the challenges and barriers for Indigenous peoples entering the tourism industry. Participants heard about how they can help to create tourism economic opportunities, and get their community involved in this initial planning stage towards an Alberta Indigenous tourism association to be established.
Participants also heard about how ITAC is working across Canada to develop the Indigenous tourism industry. The forum also provided an opportunity for attendees to meet Indigenous Albertan tourism entrepreneurs who are successfully working in the tourism industry now and assistance available from Indigenous financing institutions and tourism marketing agencies such as Travel Alberta.
In total, over 135 participants attended the forums and feedback from these sessions will help inform and guide the key priorities for a new Indigenous tourism association in Alberta. Common themes in the feedback and recommendations from the participants was the need for an Alberta Indigenous tourism association to help Indigenous tourism entrepreneurs access capital & financing, business planning guidance, product development advice, marketing support and industry advocacy.
ITAC thanks all the participants for taking the time to attend and get involved. ITAC also thanks Alberta Culture and Tourism for partnering with ITAC on this important initiative. Updates will be provided soon on next steps ITAC will be taking towards a new association for Alberta to be established as an Indigenous-run, industry-focused organization.