COAST SALISH TERRITORY (Vancouver, BC) – The Federal Government of Canada announced today they will spend a further $133 million on helping Indigenous businesses suffering the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, of which $16 million is being allocated in support of Indigenous businesses in the tourism sector.
Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) will oversee this tourism funding, which will support over 600 Indigenous tourism businesses in the form of up to $25,000 non-repayable grants.
“As we began to understand the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on not just Indigenous tourism operators but to Canada’s tourism industry as a whole, we worked with our partners within the Federal Government to create the best possible stimulus funding model we could, to keep Indigenous tourism alive across the country,” says ITAC’s President and CEO Keith Henry. “We want to thank the Government of Canada, Minister Miller and Minister Joly for listening and understanding that Indigenous-led funding models, based on our research, were imperative for our industry to survive.”
Since its inception in 2015, ITAC has helped grow Indigenous tourism to become one of the largest employers and economic drivers in Indigenous communities across Canada, with visitor demand outpacing tourism activity overall across Canada.
“This $16 million in funding will go a long way to help our Indigenous tourism operators stay in business and in turn support Canada’s tourism industry overall by providing the type of authentic cultural Indigenous experiences which are in demand by visitors domestically and globally,” says Henry. “We will continue to work hard to bring Indigenous tourism back to pre-2020 levels with 1,900 Indigenous tourism businesses, 40,000 Indigenous tourism employees and a contribution of $1.9 billion in revenue to Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) – doing our part in helping rebuild our national economy.”
“While our top priority remains the health and safety of individuals, I want to acknowledge the great challenges Indigenous businesses and economies have faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services. “Indigenous businesses are the driving force of many local economies. With this additional support, Indigenous communities and businesses will have the flexibility they need to respond to their unique economic needs through this difficult time.”
“Canada’s tourism sector has been hit hard by COVID-19, and Indigenous tourism has been particularly affected. Before the crisis, Indigenous tourism was the fastest-growing part of the industry, and this investment will help it come back strong, supporting good jobs and playing a key role in our economic recovery,” said the Honourable Melanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development.
Early this month, ITAC launched a four-year, $50 million strategic recovery plan with the goal to respond, recover and rebuild the Indigenous tourism industry across Canada to levels experienced in 2019 by 2024.
“We are so thankful for this financial support as we continue to research the full impacts to the Indigenous tourism industry and ongoing funding needs to ensure its survival and prepare to welcome Canadian visitors now and the return of international visitors in the future,” says Henry.
To view all of ITAC’s communications around COVID-19 and the resources available, click here.
About the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada
The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) is the lead organization tasked with growing 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 other groups and regions with similar mandates. By uniting the Indigenous tourism industry in Canada, ITAC works to enable collective support, product development, promotion and marketing of authentic Indigenous cultural tourism businesses in a respectful protocol. Prior to 2020, Indigenous tourism was outpacing Canadian tourism activity overall, and international demand for Indigenous experiences was at an all-time high. Due to COVID-19, ITAC recently released a report on the financial challenges facing Indigenous tourism operators and recommended stimulus solutions. As well, a 2020-2021 revised action plan focused on sustaining Indigenous tourism in the face of COVID-19 was released in March, which is now complemented by the 2020-2024 Recovery Strategy.
Deirdre Campbell, Beattie Tartan
Keith Henry, CEO
Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada
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Sebastien Desnoyers-Picard, Chief Marketing Officer
Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada