Indigenous tourism agencies launch national booking platform

Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada

COAST SALISH TERRITORY – The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) launched a new Destination Indigenous marketing campaign on Sunday, June 21 aimed at “encouraging, highlighting and educating travellers about the many Indigenous experiences that will welcome Canadians this summer.”

The launch was slated to coincide with National Indigenous People’s Day and the marketing campaign includes the release a web-booking platform that will link travellers with export-ready Indigenous tourism business who will be providing unique experiences to visitors this summer, a series of Zoom backgrounds showcasing “Indigenous-experience imagery” from each province and territory and a video campaign, ‘Virtually Yours,’ aimed at enticing tourists.

“As a global leader in advancing Indigenous tourism, our goal is to help create, support and market Canada’s Indigenous cultural experiences in a memorable and authentic way that embraces our collective efforts, honours our traditions and demonstrates our unity,” said Keith Henry, president and CEO of ITAC in a release announcing the launch. “To help achieve this, we’ve created Destination Indigenous to simplify the process for visitors wanting to discover the heritage of our country by providing a one-stop-shop where they can find the amazing experiences that our Indigenous communities have to offer.”

The release goes on to note that “prior to the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting global tourism, Canada’s Indigenous tours, activities and communities welcomed visitors from around the world—sharing rich, transformative travel experiences that showcase a modern, authentic culture. Destination Indigenous celebrates this once-thriving sector in the hopes of leading it on a path to recovery, linking travellers to an emotional experience that flows from a grounding with the natural environment, a sense of welcome, positive interactions, a feeling of vibrancy and a desire to connect.”

“Now more than ever, in light of the drastic effects that COVID-19 has had on the Indigenous tourism sector, it is important to promote and support the Indigenous tour, activity and experience operators that have welcomed visitors from around the world into their communities,” said Mr. Henry. “With over 40,000 people employed by this industry, we have turned our efforts to advocacy—requesting much-needed federal financial relief for businesses—and now, towards the promotion of domestic tourism through the Destination Indigenous campaign.”

The Destination Indigenous campaign will continue to roll out new elements to promote and support the tourism industry towards recovery and resiliency over the coming months, assures board member and Indigenous Tourism Ontario president Kevin Eshkawkogan. “Due to COVID-19, many Indigenous communities and experiences are still closed to visitors in order to stop the spread of the virus. In respect of that, we are encouraging people to explore the Destination Indigenous booking platform regularly as member experiences will be added on an ongoing basis as they get the approval from the government to welcome guests. There will be a multitude of experiences tailored to various interests to discover.”

“We stress cultural appropriate authenticity,” noted Mr. Eshkawkogan. “I believe the post COVID-19 tourism market will provide a lot of opportunities for Indigenous tourism,” he said. “People will be looking for smaller-scale, less crowded experiences, and that is something we, as an industry, excel at providing.” 

The website can be accessed at DestinationIndigenous.ca and Indigenous tourism businesses are encouraged to market their own unique experiences.