Gateway Gazette

Alberta Steps up to Help Grow Indigenous Tourism

New tourism initiatives aim to create jobs for First Nations and Métis communities and attract more visitors to the province.

Indigenous tourism experience at Horsethief Canyon in the Canadian Badlands

The Government of Alberta is providing the Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada (ATAC) with a $100,000 grant to help establish a provincial Indigenous tourism organization and grow tourism-related businesses across the province.

This is the first time ATAC has received grant funding from a provincial or territorial government.

ATAC will use the funds to help grow tourism businesses in First Nations and Métis communities in Alberta. Working with the government, ATAC will build and deliver an Indigenous tourism entrepreneurship program, hold regional sessions targeting current and potential Indigenous tourism entrepreneurs, support Indigenous tourism businesses in the province and support ‘Alberta Day’ at the 2017 International Aboriginal Tourism Conference in Calgary, November 5-7.

“The Alberta government is proud to work in partnership with ATAC and to be the first provincial government to provide funding in support of this collaborative work. This is a tremendous opportunity to help create jobs for Indigenous communities, help strengthen Alberta’s overall economy and give visitors a meaningful, cultural experience.”

Ricardo Miranda, Minister of Culture and Tourism
The Honourable Minister Ricardo Miranda, Minister of Culture and Tourism, Government of Alberta addresses a crowd of Chinese travel buyers at an event held in partnership with the Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada at the Grey Eagle Resort & Casino during Rendezvous Canada. May 10, 2017.

ATAC’s plan for a provincial Indigenous tourism organization in Alberta follows on the heels of a successful Rendez-vous Canada in Calgary, where it helped market Indigenous tourism experiences to international travel buyers.

Working with Culture and Tourism, ATAC will also create a new program to help Indigenous entrepreneurs, artists and storytellers who want to start a tourism business.

“Indigenous peoples in Alberta have inspiring stories to tell and can offer authentic, educational experiences that visitors are seeking. We encourage Métis and First Nations in the province to seek out and establish tourism businesses that will create employment opportunities and grow your local community.”

Keith Henry, president and CEO, Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada

“Aboriginal tourism is a cornerstone in the future development of the industry across Canada and we are encouraged to see the growth of this part of the sector in Alberta.”

Brenda Holder, ATAC board director for Alberta and owner of Mahikan Trails
Treaty 7 Chiefs welcome Rendezvous Canada delegates in a historic opening to Canada’s largest travel show, recognizing Indigenous territory and relationships (May 9, 2017. Calgary, Alberta)
(L-R)
1. Chief Roy Fox, Kainai First Nation
2. Chief Joe Weaselchild, Siksika Nation
3. Chief Lee Crowchild, Tsuut’ina Nation
4. Chairman Harry Barnes, Blackfoot Nation (Montana)
5. Chief Stan Grier, Piikani Nation
6. David Goldstein, President & CEO, Destination Canada
7. Charlotte Bell, President & CEO, Tourism Industry Association of Canada
8. Leonard Bastien, Ceremonialist
9. Keith Henry, President & CE

Quick facts

  • Tourism in Alberta supports more than 19,000 businesses and 127,000 jobs in the province.
  • The Aboriginal tourism industry in Canada employs more than 33,000 people and produces $1.4 billion of Canada’s annual GDP – (ATAC).
  • ATAC’s The Path Forward aims to increase revenues from the sector by $300 million in annual Canadian GDP to reach 40,233 Indigenous tourism workers and 50 new Indigenous tourism operators.
  • Hosted by Travel Alberta, Tourism Calgary and Destination Canada in Calgary, Rendez-vous Canada, the nation’s foremost tourism marketplace, saw 1850 delegates this year, including more than 550 buyers from 29 different countries from May 9-12.
    • The Aboriginal Canada Pavilion was the largest it has ever been, with 41 businesses represented by 63 delegates.
    • Treaty 7 Chiefs provided welcome remarks to recognize traditional territory and relationships with Indigenous peoples.
    • ATAC partnered with Destination BC, Travel Alberta, Ontario Tourism, Tourisme Quebec and the Grey Eagle Resort & Casino to host more than 200 delegates, including 103 buyers from China.

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