COAST SALISH TERRITORY, B.C. — The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) has released its 2022-25 Strategic Plan: Building Back Better, which focuses on re-storing the Indigenous-tourism industry from the impacts of COVID-19.
“Funding support demonstrates reconciliation in action by creating and expanding tourism economic-development projects with Indigenous communities while supporting self-determination for Indigenous businesses,” says Keith Henry, president and CEO of ITAC. “Prior to COVID-19, the growth of the Indigenous tourism sector in Canada provided a globally recognized competitive advantage for the country’s tourism industry. It also brought economic growth and support for several Indigenous communities, some with limited economic opportunities, providing a successful Indigenous-led model.”
Pre-pandemic, Indigenous tourism GDP increased from $1.4 billion in 2014 to nearly $1.9 billion in 201 and export readiness increased from 65 to more than 130 Indigenous-owned businesses. However, in less than 24 months, almost 70 per cent of Indigenous tourism GDP was lost, followed by significant business closures and job losses.
In alignment with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ITAC’s strategic plan has three main priorities: inspiring ITAC-member businesses to re-focus their offering through targeted business support, education and training; leveraging partnerships and investments with provincial and territorial Indigenous-tourism associations; and strengthening ITAC as the national leader and advocate for Indigenous tourism operators.
ITAC aims to reach pre-pandemic levels by 2025, three years earlier than projected. Its targets include $1.9 billion in direct GDP contributions, 1,900 Indigenous-tourism businesses and 40,000 Indigenous-tourism employees. To meet these targets, the recovery plan requires an investment of $65 million over three years.
“Thank you to our industry partners who joined us in strategic planning. Their collaboration and time commitment have been invaluable to aligning our national Indigenous tourism strategy,” says Henry. “The reality is we need to rebuild before 2025. If we wait for the industry to rebuild by 2028, businesses might not survive. We hope the government will support our ask so we can continue to implement Indigenous-led solutions to re-bound as fast as possible.”