Renewed focus is on sustaining Indigenous Tourism through 2020
COAST SALISH TERRITORY (Vancouver, BC) – March 24, 2020 – The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) has rewritten their business plan for their upcoming fiscal year 2020-21, in response to the considerable negative impacts of COVID-19 on the global tourism industry.
The revised 2020-2021 ITAC Action Plan will ensure investment to Indigenous partner associations and members through stimulus development grants, starting with a revised investment of an estimated $1.175M directly to eligible Indigenous tourism businesses.
“Over the past six years, our sector has seen unprecedented growth in all areas of Indigenous tourism including accommodations, tours and culinary,” said Keith Henry, ITAC’s President and CEO. “However, beginning in January we heard from our members who were already experiencing the negative impacts of COVID-19, and we knew we had to take action. This revised plan is based on their feedback.”
The revised 2020-21 Action Plan will focus on three main priorities:
- Creating a stimulus investment fund for Indigenous tourism operators
- Ensuring the stability of the regional Indigenous tourism associations
- Ensuring the stability of ITAC operations
With these priorities in mind, ITAC has announced the COVID-19 Development Stimulus Fund Application for Indigenous Tourism Businesses.
Henry stated that ITAC is quickly readjusting the development grants program. “Typically, the grants are actioned towards the fall, but given our current circumstances, we have created the COVID-19 Development Stimulus Fund immediately,” he said. “We are allocating all of the development grant money along with a large amount of savings from various line items. We will redirect all of these resources into this program, with or without our partners, so that we can provide a significant increase to the grants in order to help Indigenous entrepreneurs and their businesses stay afloat.”
The overall goal of the stimulus funds is to provide financial relief for Indigenous tourism businesses across Canada who are being affected by the drastic downturn of tourism globally and to also help them prepare for the industry’s eventual recovery. This can include market awareness, preparing to manage larger volumes of visitors, training qualified staff and designing sustainable business growth strategies.
Additionally, ITAC has announced the ITAC Funding Application for Provincial/ Territorial Indigenous Tourism Organizations 2020-2021 COVID-19 SUPPORT program.
The aim of this program is to help provincial and territorial Indigenous tourism organizations to advocate for accelerated funding, tools and support necessary to recover from COVID-19 and grow the Indigenous tourism industry nationally again.
“We know that with this important financial support, ITAC and our industry will rebuild, sustain and continue to grow. We will see 40,000 Indigenous people working in our industry again, we will continue to bolster Indigenous tourism businesses across Canada and celebrate 200 market and export-ready businesses, and we know that we will contribute significant revenue to the Canadian GDP in the future,” said Henry.
COVID-19’s impact on tourism has also caused ITAC to update their 2024 key performance indicators as well as the key priorities, projects and programs to support these new measures of success, supported by the stimulus funding.
United in the face of the detrimental impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, ITAC is aligning strategically with the Government of Canada, Business Development Bank of Canada, Export Development Canada and regional development agencies to sustain the Indigenous tourism industry across Canada.
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. With Indigenous tourism outpacing Canadian tourism activity overall, and international demand for Indigenous experiences at an all-time high, ITAC recently updated its five-year plan. Additionally, ITAC just launched their Nations magazine, highlighting Indigenous people and experiences across the country.
For more information on ITAC visit www.IndigenousTourism.ca.
Deirdre Campbell, Beattie Tartan
Keith Henry, Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada