February 10, 2020, Treaty 6 Territory and Homeland of the Métis (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) – The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) and Tourism Saskatchewan signed a memorandum of understanding today in support of Indigenous tourism development. The memorandum provides the foundation for partnerships with other organizations interested in advancing economic development in the tourism industry for Indigenous communities across the province.
Saskatchewan is the homeland of the Métis and over 70 First Nations communities. The province has the highest percentage of Indigenous peoples among its total population and a rapidly growing Indigenous tourism industry which is positively impacting the provincial economy.
In 2017, the Conference Board of Canada indicated that the Saskatchewan Indigenous tourism industry contributed $116.7 million to the GDP, representing an increase of 23% from 2014. The province also experienced an increase in the number of Indigenous tourism operators, from 63 in 2014 to 90 in 2017, representing a 43% increase. The increase in tourism operators resulted in a 32% increase in the number of jobs, from 2,728 to 3,606 in 2017.
“It is an honour for me to be here today and sign this MOU in my home province,” says Keith Henry, President and CEO of ITAC. “The Métis and Indigenous cultural experiences across Saskatchewan are some of the most diverse and dynamic found in Canada. Together with Tourism Saskatchewan, we will grow Indigenous tourism to be an even larger contributor to the local economy.”
As part of the MOU, a Saskatchewan Indigenous Tourism Strategy will be completed by March 2020, and a sustainable governance structure put in place to guide the growth of Indigenous tourism across the province. The MOU also aligns with Tourism Saskatchewan’s strategic priorities including supporting innovative product and visitor experience development, increasing tourism revenue by attracting new markets, increasing visitors’ length of stay, reducing the seasonality of tourism, and spreading the economic benefits of the industry to all communities.
“The Indigenous tourism sector in Saskatchewan is a rapidly growing part of the industry, with more visitors and Indigenous-owned operations than ever before,” said Gene Makowsky, the Parks, Culture, and Sports Minister. “This memorandum is the foundation for strategic growth and investment in Saskatchewan tourism, and the basis for a thriving core of Indigenous tourism experiences.”
ITAC will also host training workshops for Indigenous tourism entrepreneurs and support an annual Saskatchewan Indigenous Tourism Summit in 2021, building on the momentum created by Saskatoon hosting the International Indigenous Tourism Conference in 2018.
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.
To view packages and experiences available visit www.IndigenousCanada.Travel.
For more information on ITAC visit www.IndigenousTourism.ca
Deirdre Campbell, Beattie Tartan
250-592-3838, 250-882-9199 (cell)
Keith Henry, Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada
604-639-4408, 778-388-5013 (cell)