Government of Canada launches new initiative to support Indigenous tourism
From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
New funding stream will offer direct support to Indigenous tourism businesses
November 17, 2023 – Vancouver, British Columbia
The growth of Indigenous tourism is both an important element of reconciliation and a major opportunity for First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. Indigenous People have a rich tapestry of stories, traditions and landscapes to share with visitors, who are increasingly looking for authentic tourism experiences, sustainable practices and eco-tourism offerings. To help support the small businesses at the heart of the industry, the Government of Canada created the $20 million Indigenous Tourism Fund (ITF) announced in Budget 2022.
The Honourable Soraya Martinez Ferrada, Minister of Tourism and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, today announced the launch of the ITF’s Micro and Small Business Stream (MSBS). The $10 million MSBS, which will be rolled out in partnership with the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) and provincial and territorial Indigenous tourism organizations, will offer direct support to small businesses.
The ITF’s MSBS will support Indigenous tourism in several key areas. First and foremost, it will provide financial assistance to Indigenous tourism operators. Authenticity is at the heart of Indigenous tourism, and the MSBS will help ITAC deliver and promote The Original Original Accreditation Program, which provides a mark of excellence for businesses offering high-quality authentic experiences. Finally, the MSBS will leverage the expertise of provincial and territorial Indigenous tourism organizations to maximize its positive impact on Indigenous communities and the tourism industry.
The MSBS will be rolled out in partnership with ITAC and provincial and territorial Indigenous tourism organizations, except in Ontario, where details regarding the administration of the program will be announced shortly. Through this Indigenous-led approach, qualifying micro and small Indigenous tourism businesses and organizations will have access to non-repayable contributions of up to $25,000.
Indigenous tourism creates jobs and opportunities across the country, which is why the government is working with leaders and communities to encourage its growth in a way that is culturally appropriate and socially responsible. Supporting Indigenous tourism is also a central part of the government’s broader work to help Canadian tourism grow and thrive, and it is among the key priorities of the new Federal Tourism Growth Strategy. Most importantly, Indigenous tourism plays an important role in accelerating self-determination for communities and advancing reconciliation.
“As travellers crave authentic experiences, Indigenous tourism businesses are perfectly positioned to thrive in the years to come. That’s why the growth of Indigenous tourism is one of my top priorities as minister. Today’s announcement means new, concrete support for the small businesses at the heart of this industry. We’ll keep working with First Nations, Inuit and Métis stakeholders to support Indigenous tourism because it creates jobs, advances self determination and helps us walk the road of reconciliation, together.”
– The Honourable Soraya Martinez Ferrada, Minister of Tourism and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec
“The Government of Canada’s selection of ITAC to support the growth and recovery of Indigenous tourism micro and small businesses after the COVID-19 pandemic marks a noteworthy milestone in our collaborative efforts to foster the development of Indigenous tourism in Canada. Through the Indigenous Tourism Fund’s Micro and Small Business Stream, operators can enhance their services and elevate their enterprises to offer unparalleled authentic experiences to visitors in Canada. Furthermore, this stream aligns with The Original Original Accreditation Program to pinpoint areas where Indigenous tourism operators can improve their offerings and provide authentic experiences to visitors.”
– Keith Henry, President and CEO, Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada
- Before the pandemic, Indigenous tourism was the fastest-growing segment in the Canadian tourism market, posting significant gains in job creation and contributions to Canada’s GDP.
- The Indigenous tourism industry was particularly hard hit by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and has been slower to recover.
- Budget 2022 dedicated $20 million to the Indigenous Tourism Fund (ITF) to aid the industry’s recovery from the pandemic.
- In addition, at least 15% of the Tourism Growth Program from Budget 2023 will be invested in Indigenous tourism attractions.
Office of the Minister of Tourism and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada