COAST SALISH TERRITORY (Vancouver, BC) – June 5, 2020 – The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) has 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.
Due to the global pandemic and the likelihood that the summer 2020 tourism season will be lost, ITAC estimates that 32,000 Indigenous tourism employees have lost their jobs, 1,140 Indigenous tourism operators have had to shut down and 800 Indigenous tourism businesses may never open again. 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.
Since the negative impacts of COVID-19 began to be realized across the Indigenous tourism industry, ITAC has been tireless in advocating for Indigenous-led solutions and stimulus grants which has now led to the launch of its strategic recovery plan and need for further investment.
“With this funding, by 2024, we will see 40,000 Indigenous people working in our industry again, as we continue to bolster Indigenous tourism businesses across Canada,” says Keith Henry, President and CEO of ITAC. “We will work hard to once again celebrate 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.”
ITAC’s 2020-2024 Recovery Plan will ensure investment in provincial and territorial Indigenous tourism associations and its members through stimulus development grants—starting with a revised investment of an estimated $14 million directly to eligible Indigenous tourism businesses, which ITAC began distributing last month.
The three main priorities of ITAC’s strategic recovery plan are:
- Ensuring the sustainability of ITAC member businesses across the country. This will be achieved through the creation of a stimulus investment fund for Indigenous tourism operators and an increased emphasis on education and training.
- Ensuring the sustainability of the provincial and territorial Indigenous tourism associations. This will be achieved by supporting the ability of provincial and territorial Indigenous tourism associations to maintain their membership and infrastructure.
- Ensuring the sustainability of ITAC’s national operations. This will be achieved with an emphasis on leadership and through a strengthening of relationships with our industry and government partners.
The need for an association like ITAC to support Indigenous businesses was reinforced with the over 30% increase in new members to ITAC in 2020. Supporting its members, ITAC’s Strategic Recovery Plan will take place in stages:
- Phase 1 – Response (April 2020 – June 2020)
- Phase 2 – Recovery (July 2020 – March 2021)
- Phase 3 – Resilience (April 2021 – March 2024)
“We understand that there can be no one-size-fits-all approach to our programs as each province and territory will have its own mandates, procedures, standards and requirements,” says Henry. “Indigenous nations will also have their own jurisdiction and may specify their own requirements and restrictions based on health and safety concerns. Our strategic recovery plan is flexible and can adapt to the diversity of needs and requirements across the country.”
A further breakdown of activities may be viewed online at https://indigenoustourism.ca/corporate/itac-strategic-recovery-plan/
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