Coast Salish Territories / Vancouver, BC (January 14, 2021): Indigenous Tourism BC (ITBC) has unveiled its Indigenous Alignment Strategy 2021-2024, a three-year plan to rebuild and grow BC’s Indigenous tourism sector through COVID-19 and beyond. The plan outlines the immediate and future activities, and will increase alignment between ITBC and Indigenous, provincial, regional and federal partners with the goal of strengthening and improving BC’s collaborative tourism network.
Considered a world leader in the development and promotion of authentic Indigenous tourism experiences, ITBC actively engages with the 204 First Nations of BC to foster their economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits through tourism. In 2018, the organization introduced Pulling Together, its five-year corporate plan aimed at growing Indigenous economies by cultivating relationships, inspiring visitors, activating experience development, and advocating on behalf of Stakeholders and sector partners. Now in its fourth year, Pulling Together has required a pivot towards recovery from the global pandemic.
Tourism has been devastated more than any other sector, and Indigenous communities are particularly vulnerable due to reduced access to rural areas where many are located, shifting travel patterns, and lost expenditures from Canadian and international markets. A survey of ITBC Stakeholders shows that 91% of businesses have been forced to close or operate in a limited capacity, while 74% have laid off employees. ITBC’s Alignment Strategy refocuses Pulling Together by targeting areas that will have the biggest impact on recovery and growth of these businesses and communities.
Guided by the Alignment Strategy, ITBC will spend the next three years supporting Stakeholders and First Nations communities to cultivate a prosperous and sustainable tourism industry that connects visitors to exceptional Indigenous experiences. The strategy identifies six goals that support Pulling Together, including collaboration with partners across BC and Canada to reimagine and reinvent the post-COVID-19 tourism economy; returning the Indigenous tourism industry to 2019 levels by 2024; achieving annual growth in revenues; achieving annual growth in jobs; building industry capacity through relevant programs and partnerships; and growing sustainable, social, cultural, environmental and economic benefits for all Indigenous residents of BC.
“Looking ahead, we are making space for recovery and continuing to rise together, with our actions being very intentional to support Indigenous tourism businesses and communities to succeed” says Brenda Baptiste, Chair of ITBC’s Board of Directors. “We are grateful to our provincial and federal partners for recognizing the importance of Indigenous contributions to local economies. The Alignment Strategy enables us to build on their support and carve a path for a new generation of business leaders, so we can emerge stronger than ever before.”