Coast Salish Territories (May 13, 2019): Indigenous Tourism BC (ITBC) has revitalized the Authentic Indigenous designation program, introduced seven years ago as Authentic Aboriginal. Intended to build on unprecedented growth of Indigenous tourism across the province, the program’s launch coincides with the launch of ITBC’s refreshed website and online platform.
Updated and revitalized from its first iteration in 2012, the Authentic Indigenous designation is granted to key Stakeholders who offer compelling, culturally appropriate Indigenous tourism experiences. The designation helps travellers identify these experiences throughout the province and acknowledges they are contributing to the preservation of local Indigenous cultures and languages.
The program’s return follows ITBC’s release of its three-year Tourism Performance Audit Report in October 2018, which announced record-breaking growth of BC’s Indigenous tourism industry. The report’s findings include a notable 33% increase of Indigenous tourism-related businesses operating in 2016/17 over 2014, and an estimated $705 million gross domestic output generated by Indigenous businesses. The report also indicated 36% of travellers surveyed had visited Indigenous sites, attractions or events on previous trips to BC, while 89% of tour operators would consider offering or expanding their Indigenous experiences to meet demand.
In further support of Indigenous tourism growth and marketing, ITBC recently unveiled a new consumer website featuring rich digital storytelling from thriving and inspirational Indigenous cultures in BC. Paired with a new series called “Living Legends”, which documents remarkable individuals who dedicate themselves to the resurgence and revitalization of local Indigenous cultures, the website is poised to contribute to another banner year for Indigenous tourism across the province.
Brenda Baptiste, Chair, Indigenous Tourism BC
“ITBC is very excited to reintroduce the Authentic Indigenous program. We are seeing unprecedented growth of Indigenous tourism across the province, as well as continued demand for authentic cultural experiences. The designation is intended not only to inspire consumer confidence in local tourism experiences, but to also provide businesses with an additional marketing tool that we believe will lead to increased awareness and bookings.”
Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister Responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada
“Our government is working hard to ensure Canadians have the tools they need to become more competitive and succeed in the global economy. This is why we’re supporting Indigenous Tourism BC: to build on its success as an Indigenous tourism pioneer by revitalizing initiatives that boost economic growth and create well-paying jobs for Canadians.”
Honourable Mélanie Joly, Federal Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie
“Indigenous tourism plays an important role in demonstrating the richness of Canada’s people and cultures,” said the Honourable. “By working together with Indigenous Tourism BC to promote authentic Indigenous experiences for visitors, we’re able to harness the full potential of our tourism sector and create new economic opportunities for all Canadians."
Mike Willie, Owner, Sea Wolf Adventures
“This is such an important program for Indigenous tourism businesses, and we are grateful that ITBC has chosen to renew it. When travellers see businesses like ourselves have been awarded the Authentic Indigenous designation, they can rest assured their experience will be authentic, culturally appropriate and transformative.”
To receive the Authentic Indigenous designation, tourism businesses must be Indigenous-owned and operated, offer quality Indigenous cultural content, and practice sustainability that protects both culture and environment.