Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (MUSQUEAM), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (SQUAMISH) and səlilwətaɬ (TSLEIL-WAUTUTH)/VANCOUVER — Keith Henry, president and CEO of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC), and tourism leaders from Westjet, Airbnb and Rocky Mountaineer, have launched the Indigenous Tourism Destination Fund (ITDF).
The ITDF is expected to be a game changer for Indigenous tourism in Canada — both as a way to invest in the continued growth of the industry and as a model for the development of Indigenous tourism, Indigenous communities and entrepreneurs worldwide. ITAC seeks to raise $2.6 billion over seven years and accelerate the growth of Indigenous tourism in Canada by tripling the direct GDP contributions from approximately $1.9 billion in 2019 to $6 billion by 2030.
The new funding model invites the entire tourism industry to participate and support progress towards realizing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action #92: by ensuring Indigenous communities gain long-term sustainable benefits from economic activities taking place on their lands.
The ITDF program will offer a new way for travellers, Indigenous businesses and non-Indigenous tourism companies to participate and support Indigenous tourism by providing an optional fee to guests to support the fund. Early adopters are Rocky Mountaineer, Airbnb, WestJet, Coast to Coast Experiences and other Indigenous tourism businesses, including Alberta-based Mahikan Trails; Ontario-based Cape Croker Park; New Brunswick-based Red Bank Lodge; New Brunswick-based Metepenagiag Heritage Park; Nunavut-based Aqsarniit Hotel; Manitoba-based Wapusk Adventures; and Quebec-based Bastien Industries.
Additionally, ITAC has created an internal investment strategy to support the creation of 800 new Indigenous tourism businesses and increasing employment by 21,000 jobs with targets for every province and territory. Participating partners and consumers will ensure Indigenous tourism can grow through:
- Infrastructure and Destination Development Fund
- Sustainable Tourism Workforce Fund
- Develop and Promote Tourism Assets Fund
- Market Indigenous Tourism for Major Sporting Events Fund
“We’re thrilled to announce this opportunity for Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses to partner with ITAC and create strategies to attract new investments for Indigenous tourism businesses across Canada,” says Keith Henry, president and CEO of ITAC. “By giving everyone a stake in our success, we’re able to move towards reconciliation together. Over the next seven years, Indigenous tourism can contribute $6 billion annually to Canada’s GDP, by investing in our shared-future, our partners can help make that a reality.”
“Rocky Mountaineer is proud to be a partner of the Indigenous Tourism Destination Fund. As a global business with Canadian roots, we recognize and are wholly committed to our responsibility to meaningfully advance reconciliation,” says David McKenna, president and CEO of Rocky Mountaineer. “Partnering with ITAC on the fund is an active response to Call to Action #92 and in the shared vision of an economically inclusive tourism industry. With ITAC’s incredible leadership, including on this fund, Canada will become the world leader in Indigenous tourism by 2030.”
“Airbnb proudly supports the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada and is thrilled to be an early adopter of the Indigenous Tourism Destination Fund. A thriving Indigenous tourism economy in Canada – including Indigenous Airbnb hosts sharing their home, culture and community – gives visitors the opportunity to connect with authentic, memorable and enriching Indigenous experiences, while also supporting economic reconciliation and the direct benefits home sharing can have on Indigenous hosts,” says Nathan Rotman, policy lead, Canada, Airbnb.
“As an Indigenous-owned and operated business, Cape Croker Park is an enthusiastic partner of the Indigenous Tourism Destination Fund. ITAC has been instrumental in supporting and building awareness of Indigenous tourism businesses across Canada,” says Jason W. Johnston, interpretive program coordinator, Cape Croker Park. “The ITDF is another ITAC initiative which will move Canada closer to becoming the world leader in Indigenous tourism. We are proud to partner with ITAC and the ITDF to support all Indigenous tourism businesses across the country.”