PHOTO: Inuit Drum Dancer in Arctic Bay, Nunavut. (Photo courtesy of Clare Kines, Nunavut Tourism)
The Government of Canada has announced that it is earmarking $3.15 million for the Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada (ATAC), to implement a five-year national strategy, entitled the Path Forward 2016-2021.
“I want to thank the Government of Canada and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada’s support to invest in our industry,” said Keith Henry, president & CEO of the Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada. “Aboriginal tourism continues to grow with greater demand each year and this new investment will support our national strategy entitled The Path Forward 2016-2021. ATAC will be empowered to enhance and support new Aboriginal tourism experiences for future international and domestic visitors. This is an exciting time as we continue to share the Aboriginal culture histories from throughout this beautiful country. Aboriginal tourism is poised to grow, creating new jobs and economic development for Aboriginal people throughout Canada.”
In Canada, Indigenous tourism has seen a healthy growth spurt over the past decade. In 2002, there were 892 Indigenous tourism businesses. By 2014, that number had nearly doubled to more than 1,500. Tourism employment has also grown, from 12,566 people in 2002 to more than 32,000 people in 2014. By 2021, the Indigenous tourism industry is expected to employ more than 40,000 workers.
The industry represents an economic input of $2.65 billion and some $1.4 billion in national gross domestic product (GDP). The new five-year plan by ATAC should drive an annual increase of $300 million into the Canadian GDP over the next five years.
“From the Haida Nation to Wendake, to Waycobah First Nations, Indigenous communities are growing dynamic tourism initiatives and welcoming Canadian and international tourists alike to their traditional territories,” said The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P. Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs. “In addition to local and regional economic benefits, tourism can also serve as a vehicle promote and share cultural identities, stories, and traditions and help to advance reconciliation with non-indigenous visitors.”
Primarily, the five-year strategy calls for respecting and strengthening Indigenous traditions and cultures, while increasing visibility of the tourism into Indigenous communities. In addition to supporting existing tourism businesses, the plan should help local communities develop new programs.
“Canada’s Indigenous cultures and communities are among this country’s most unique tourism offerings,” said The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism. “The five-year national strategy will help grow Canada’s tourism industry and Indigenous-owned businesses, as well as improve our competitiveness as a world-class international tourism destination.”
For more information, visit https://aboriginalcanada.ca.