Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), Vancouver, BC – The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) is pleased to announce that the federal government is committing $306.8 million dollars in stimulus funding to support the 6000 small-medium Indigenous businesses across the country flowing through 59 different Aboriginal financial institutions in Canada. Of these, more than 30%, or 1875, are Indigenous tourism businesses.
Since COVID-19 began to severely impact the Canadian tourism and hospitality industry in March, ITAC President and CEO, Keith Henry, has been advocating for Indigenous-led financial solutions as many of the stimulus funding options currently offered are not available to Indigenous tourism business owners. In addition to the COVID-19 Development Stimulus Fund announced by ITAC in late March, which provides grants of $25,000 per applicant, this Federal stimulus package will further aid Indigenous entrepreneurs and their businesses during these difficult times with short-term, interest-free loans and non-repayable contributions through the Aboriginal Financial Institutions network.
“I am extremely happy to see that the government is listening to the concerns of the Indigenous tourism industry and has taken action to support one of our proposed solutions,” said Keith Henry. “We know that it’s an unpredictable time for our country and this investment will provide important relief for our Indigenous tourism operators, many of whom have had to shut down completely and are facing the loss of their 2020 tourism season.”
ITAC will continue to pursue increased support for the stimulus grant program and remains united in facing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. ITAC and our indigenous tourism industry partners are working to sustain the Indigenous tourism industry with its strategic partners at the Government of Canada and the Aboriginal financial institution network.
For more information on the ITAC COVID-19 Development Stimulus Fund, including the form to apply, click here.
To view all our communications around COVID-19 and the resources available, please 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 2020-21 revised action plan focused on sustaining Indigenous tourism in the face of Covid-19 was released in March.
Jessica Harcombe Fleming, Beattie Tartan
Keith Henry, Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada