Dennis Thomas of Taykaya Tours from Tsleil-Waututh Nation welcomed the delegates to the shared traditional territory of the Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueum, and Squamish Nations. Brenda Baptiste, ITBC Board Chair, made opening remarks for the 2018 AGM stated that ITBC has exceeded in every area over the past year and looks forward to continued growth in the next years.
Henry Tso, ITBC’s CFO, presented the Annual Report revealing ITBC met all 2018 targets. With more than 100 market-ready Stakeholders, ITBC is currently on track for its 2019 targets. Tso spoke enthusiastically about setting new goals that align with provincial and federal strategies for the anticipated and continued growth of Indigenous Tourism in British Columbia.
Keynote speaker Peter Van Stolk, the founder of Jones Soda and SPUD.ca, offered a simple approach to creative marketing that ITBC knows well: “Ask your customers. Listen to what they’re saying without judging. Acknowledge and thank your customers.” Van Stolk graciously waived his speaking fee so that a group of 14 Indigenous students from Vancouver Island University's Aboriginal Ecotourism Training Program could attend the ITBC 2018 Stakeholder Forum.
Tourism, Arts, and Culture Minister Beare addressed the delegates: “Strong Indigenous tourism supports Reconciliation.” She stated that every minister is responsible for the implementation of Truth and Reconciliation principles. Minister Beare’s address was followed by a Stakeholder discussion of best practices in Resilience, Innovation, and Partnerships.The discussion included stories that celebrate collaboration, community, stewardship, sustainability, and Indigenous identity. “If you know what’s in your backyard, you’ll take care of it,” says Deanna Lewis of Talaysay Tours. Kaylene Earl of Lakeshore Resort and Campground told of how the public is learning to acknowledge the land and people of ?akisq’nuk First Nation--her employer. Trevor Cootes from Huu-ayaht Tourism reminded the audience: “We’ve always been in tourism,” and James Cowpar of Haida Style Expeditions encouraged the crowd: “There’s movement. And the movement is toward cultural tourism.”
ITBC is looking forward to rolling out new initiatives in 2019. ITBC will expand its Indigenous Specialist program into other regions and continue to implement strategice inititiaves for developing Indigenous experiences to become market-ready. “Aligning and leveraging partnerships with Destination BC and other industry partners, as well as Indigenous communities will continue to be a key action for growing Indigenous tourism.” says Paula Amos – ITBC’s Director of Partnerships.
Marketing Director Dana Schoahs shared the strategy that includes video and rich digital storytelling from thriving and inspirational Indigenous cultures in British Columbia. The team also announced that the Authentic Aboriginal designation will be revitalized and renamed Authentic Indigenous. Andy Maclellan of VERB Interactive revealed the predictive, personalized, constant storytelling template for the new consumer website, launching in February 2019 with greater mobile accessibility, speed, and responsiveness.
Brenda Basptiste - Chair
Frank Antoine - Co-Chair
Sharon Bond - Secretary
Lori Simcox - Treasurer
Bert Mercer *newly elected
Trevor Cootes *newly elected
Much appreciation to the Stakeholders and Partners that attended the ITBC 2018 AGM and Forum. Successful Indigenous cultural tourism operations contribute to the sovereignty and self-reliance of Indigenous peoples and the empowerment of Indigenous youth through business and leadership in BC.
Together we grow.