ITAC launches new fund to raise $2.6 billion, grow Indigenous tourism in Canada

The Indigenous Tourism Destination Fund is asking partners to charge end consumers 25 cents per transaction

Today, the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) launched a new fund to boost investment in the Indigenous tourism industry. The non-profit organization hopes that the Indigenous Tourism Destination Fund can raise $2.6 billion over the next seven years and help the Indigenous tourism industry grow by 40 percent, which will also help it recover from the pandemic. It’s a hefty goal, but ITAC isn’t shying away from putting its vision out there: by 2030, the organization wants to support the development of 800 new businesses and 21,000 more jobs in the industry, and triple Indigenous tourism’s contributions to the country’s GDP from $1.9 billion (2019) to $6 billion. 

The fund, says ITAC president and CEO Keith Henry, is a strategic way to facilitate investments into Indigenous tourism. Businesses interested in supporting the fund can do so by charging their customers a percentage or flat rate fee, the general ask being 25 cents per transaction.  

A number of companies have already jumped on board as early adopters of the program, including Rocky Mountaineer (a business that, according to Henry, is going above and beyond the general ask in its donation, though the amount was not disclosed), AirbnbWestJetCoast to Coast ExperiencesMahikan TrailsCape Croker ParkRed Bank LodgeMetepenagiag Heritage ParkAqsarniit HotelWapusk Adventures and Bastien Industries. 

Investments will be used for initiatives targeting infrastructure development, sustainable workforce, destination development with Indigenous communities, ITAC’s Original Original program (which accredits businesses that offer an authentic Indigenous tourism experience), transportation access to remote communities and more. 

“We’re thrilled to announce this opportunity for Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses to partner with ITAC and create strategies to attract new investments for Indigenous tourism businesses across Canada,” Henry added in a release. “By giving everyone a stake in our success, we’re able to move towards reconciliation together.”