Above government support, ITAC allocated more than $750,000 to provide additional grants.

In response to COVID-19, the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) set up the COVID-19 Stimulus Development Fund as part of its ongoing efforts to help Indigenous tourism operators recover and build resiliency from the devastating impacts of the pandemic. With support from the federal government along with the allocation of internal resources, ITAC distributed 679 grants to eligible operators with non-repayable contributions of up to $25,000 per applicant, totalling $16,268,860.

Since the middle of March 2020, ITAC has been advocating for Indigenous tourism businesses nationwide to receive funding to support them in guarding against and recovering from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In April 2020 ITAC released a report on the financial challenges facing Indigenous tourism operators in Canada and recommended stimulus solutions. Recognizing the immediate need of the community in March 2020, ITAC deferred its annual development grant money along with a large amount of savings from other programs to establish the COVID-19 Stimulus Development Fund and ran the first application intake between April 7 and April 30, 2020.

Additionally, in June 2020, the federal government announced $16 million to help approximately 640 Indigenous tourism businesses suffering the economic impacts of the pandemic and determined that these funds would be delivered by ITAC. As a result of this announcement, a second intake launched on August 19 and ran until September 9, 2020. ITAC received the $16M from the federal government at the end of August and was able to deliver financial support to Indigenous tourism businesses immediately after the second intake. Per the contract with Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), ITAC had until December 31, 2020, to distribute all the funds associated with the COVID-19 Stimulus Development Fund but was able to pay out all grants by December 22, more than a week in advance of the deadline. Further, with the reallocation of ITAC’s annual development grant money and savings from other programs, ITAC was able to distribute a total of 679 grants, which was approximately 39 above the federal government’s support.

Distribution of COVID-19 Stimulus Development Funding Grants by Province:

  • Alberta: 67 businesses; $1,590,000
  • British Columbia: 155 businesses; $3,753,255
  • Manitoba: 42 businesses; $968,110
  • New Brunswick: 22 businesses; $510,000
  • Newfoundland: 33 businesses; $776,500
  • Northwest Territories: 24 businesses; $578,500
  • Nova Scotia: 18 businesses; $397,500
  • Nunavut: 30 businesses; $735,000
  • Ontario: 116 businesses; $2,807,940
  • Prince Edward Island: 3 businesses; $75,000
  • Quebec: 122 businesses; $2,988,630
  • Saskatchewan: 29 businesses; $684,300
  • Yukon: 18 businesses; $404,125
  • National Total: 679 businesses; $16,268,860

These grants, which have reached a mix of export-, market- and visitor-ready Indigenous tourism businesses in Canada, were made possible with the support of the federal government via Indigenous Services Canada and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

With the continued impacts of COVID-19 ravaging the global tourism Industry, ITAC has put out its Second Wave Response and an urgent call to the federal government on November 19, 2020 for a new dedication of financial funding to support Indigenous tourism businesses. The second wave of the pandemic is well ongoing and will continue to lead to the closure of even more Indigenous tourism businesses. ITAC has been tireless in advocating for Indigenous-led solutions and stimulus grants and insists the only way the industry will survive is with additional federal investments. ITAC has a proven track record in administering multi-million dollar projects simultaneously and achievement in advancing Indigenous tourism in Canada through an Indigenous-led strategy and will continue to advocate for Indigenous-led solutions to support Indigenous tourism businesses in Canada.