Algonquin Anishinaabeg Territory (Ottawa, ON) – Organized by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC), Hill Days is an annual two-day event held October 16-18, 2023, that provides a platform for industry players to engage with federal policy makers and decision-makers. This year, the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) was a proud sponsor and was in the spotlight with its management team supporting and attending meetings with The Honourable Minister Soraya Martinez Ferrada, Minister of Tourism, Federal Members of Parliament, the All Party Tourism Caucus, and other key stakeholders. 

Based in Ottawa, TIAC takes action on behalf of Canadian tourism businesses and promotes positive measures that help the industry grow and prosper. Moreover, the association is responsible for representing tourism interests at the national level, and its advocacy work involves promoting and supporting policies, programs and activities that will benefit the sector’s growth and development.

“I want to express my gratitude to the Tourism Industry Association of Canada for the special recognition of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada during the Hill Day reception. It was an honour to have several Senators, MPs, and The Honourable Minister Soraya Martinez Ferrada, Minister of Tourism, present to hear our message. I want to congratulate our dedicated management team, who not only attended this important event but also used the opportunity to connect with the Minister and other crucial partners.” – Keith Henry, President and CEO, Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada

Let’s dive into the highlights of this influential annual event.

Clear Vision to 2030:

One of the key takeaways from ITAC’s presence at Hill Days was the clarity and appreciation surrounding the association’s vision for Indigenous tourism in Canada up to the year 2030. This long-term vision provides a roadmap for the development and growth of Indigenous tourism in the country, aligning the efforts of all stakeholders.

Indigenous Tourism Destination Fund:

ITAC used Hill Days to create awareness about the Indigenous Tourism Destination Fund. This fund offers an innovative way for Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses to partner with ITAC to grow the Indigenous tourism industry from coast to coast to coast.

The 2024 International Indigenous Tourism Conference:

In the lead-up to the 2024 International Indigenous Tourism Conference, ITAC generated considerable excitement during Hill Days. Many attendees requested letters of invitation, showcasing the high level of interest and anticipation for this upcoming event.

Indigenous Tourism at the Forefront:

Indigenous tourism consistently took centre stage during Hill Days. Its prominence in meetings and discussions reflects the growing importance of this sector in Canada’s broader tourism industry.

Leadership at the All-Party Tourism Caucus Meeting:

ITAC demonstrated its leadership by actively participating in the all-party Tourism caucus meeting for an impressive 1.5 hours. This involvement allowed the association to present its goals and objectives and discuss the key challenges and opportunities facing Indigenous tourism in Canada.

Federal Funding Request for Budget 2024:

One of the main objectives of ITAC during Hill Days was to present its budget request for 2024, which is $33.25 million. The positive reception and engagement with the Indigenous tourism sector during the event signals optimism that decision-makers should carefully consider ITAC’s budget request.

Acknowledging Exceptional Leadership:

A special thank you was extended to Director of Partnerships, Teresa Ryder, for her exemplary leadership during the Hill Day meetings. Together with ITAC’s President and CEO, Keith Henry, Teresa supported about 17 meetings over just two days, highlighting their dedication to advancing Indigenous tourism in Canada.

A Strengthened Partnership with TIAC:

During Hill Days 2023, ITAC signed an updated partnership agreement with TIAC, which allows ITAC to participate in Hill Days actively, emphasizing the significance of Indigenous tourism within Canada’s broader tourism industry. TIAC also made a special mention of ITAC and its team at the Hill Day reception, which was attended by Senators, Members of Parliament and the Federal Tourism Minister, Sorya Martinez Ferrada.

In a momentous show of support for Indigenous tourism in Canada, TIAC CEO Beth Potter and ITAC President and CEO Keith Henry penned a renewed agreement. This agreement underscores the commitment of both organizations to elevate ITAC members and the Indigenous tourism industry in Canada. Both organizations work together brings support and opportunity to an estimated 1,900 Indigenous owned tourism businesses across Canada as well as ITAC’s Indigenous Provincial and Territorial Tourism Associations.

The TIAC Hill Days 2023 event was a success for Indigenous tourism in Canada. It showcased the commitment of ITAC and its partners to advancing the sector, creating awareness about vital funds, and strengthening partnerships with key stakeholders. The event further highlighted the importance of Indigenous tourism as reconciliation in action, ensuring a promising future for this thriving and culturally rich sector.