Authenticity, awareness, and differentiation form key findings of the report

Sept. 20, 2017, Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), Vancouver, BC – Destination Canada and the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) have released the results of a qualitative research study that was undertaken to gain an understanding of perceptions of the American traveller towards Indigenous tourism experiences in Canada.

“Indigenous tourism operators make an invaluable contribution to Canada’s tourism industry, and provide unique and authentic experience, from coast to coast to coast,” says the Honourable Bardish Chagger, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism. “Our government has made it a priority to support indigenous tourism right across the country and I am happy to see the successful collaboration between Destination Canada and the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada as they work to conduct research that will further support development and growth in this dynamic sector.”

“Americans have an interest in learning more about Indigenous culture and experiences in Canada, so there is room for us to grow,” says Keith Henry, President & CEO of ITAC. “Indigenous tourism experiences share a side of Canada that American visitors are looking for. Defining Aboriginal tourism as led by Aboriginal people fulfills that need for authentic, unique and compelling stories. ITAC is here to help support and grow the industry.”

“We are pleased to collaborate with the Aboriginal Tourism Industry Association of Canada on this important research,” says David F. Goldstein, Destination Canada’s President and CEO. “These findings, with support and guidance from ATAC, will help Indigenous tourism businesses across Canada develop experiences that will excite and inspire American travellers.”

ITAC will work with their stakeholders and partners to address each of the key findings; the organization has put together an approach for acting on these next steps:

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The research outcomes highlight five key findings of the perceptions that the American traveller has of Canadian Indigenous tourism experiences:

  1. Authenticity is key
    American travellers believe that authentic experiences are critical, and many want to be actively involved in one-on-one interactions with Aboriginal people, in small, intimate groups. These travellers want to learn about cultures, traditions, arts, food, storytelling, and history.
  2. Interest is there, but awareness is low
    There is an actively engaged segment of American travellers that is positively predisposed toward Aboriginal cultural experiences; however, awareness and understanding of Aboriginal tourism in Canada is low and there is a lot of confusion over wording and definitions.
  3. Aboriginal tourism differentiation
    American travellers believe that Aboriginal cultural experiences stand out from more typical travel experiences. They imagine that it could transform a vacation from ordinary to extraordinary. This type of travel is highly experiential and emotional, and is seen as providing the traveller with a different perspective on a destination as well as way of life.
  4. Canadian differentiation
    American travellers believe that an Indigenous experiences in Canada could be more authentic than in the USA. Impressions of Aboriginal tourism in the US are often negative, and American travellers consider experiences within their own country to be highly commercialized.
  5. Strong and compelling positioning
    Positioning experiences that focused on personal connections and unique experiences resonated best within the focus groups. American travellers want to explore Canada through more experience-focused activities, especially those that are authentic and guided by Aboriginal people.

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About the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada
The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) works to improve the socio-economic condition of Aboriginal people through the provisions of economic development advisory services, tourism conferences, capacity development training and workshops, industry research, and information for Aboriginal tourism operators and communities within the 13 regions; 10 provinces and three territories of Canada. ITAC develops relationships with other groups and regions with similar mandates, uniting the Aboriginal tourism industry in Canada and works to enable collective support, product development, promotion and marketing of authentic Aboriginal cultural tourism businesses in a respectful protocol. The ITAC Board is made up of Aboriginal tourism industry representatives from each of the provinces and territories.

About Destination Canada
Destination Canada markets Canada internationally as a premier four-season tourism destination. In collaboration with partners in the Canadian tourism industry, Destination Canada creates marketing campaigns designed to showcase the best our country has to offer. Destination Canada also provides research and industry data to our partners—equipping them to optimize their businesses. For more information, please visit:, follow @DestinationCAN and @ExploreCanada on Twitter.


Media contacts:
Brian Cant, Beattie Tartan: 250-592-3838, 250-888-8729 (cell) or
Keith Henry, ITAC: 604-639-4408 or
Media Relations, Destination Canada: 1-844-856-1161 or

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