by Jake Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – Explore Edmonton and Indigenous Tourism Alberta (ITA) have announced a recently signed memorandum of understanding (MOU).
The memorandum between the two tourism organizations was created to support the development and marketing of Indigenous tourism businesses within the Edmonton region. The ultimate goal of the initiative is to increase Indigenous tourism in Alberta’s capital region through supporting businesses “that provide authentic Indigenous cultural experiences.”
Indigenous Tourism Alberta focuses on creating and nurturing partnerships between associations, organizations, governments and industry leaders from across Alberta to support the stability and growth of Indigenous tourism
“This is an historic agreement and one that we are very excited about,” said Shae Bird, Chief Executive Officer of Indigenous Tourism Alberta. “What’s most important about this agreement is the positive effect it will have on Indigenous tourism businesses in Treaty 6 Territory and Metis Nation of Alberta’s Region 4 and 2, and we hope it will be an inspiration for other provinces and cities across Canada.”
“[It provides] a little bit of accountability on both partners to ensure that there’s a line vision and to ensure not only the survival of indigenous tourism, but the growth and prosperity of it as we move forward.”
“We know right now that there is incredible demand,” Bird said. “We’re in very much the infancy stages of the industry.”
The memorandum secures support at the regional level for those new businesses and the sector’s representation during familiarization tours for tour operators, media products and promotional missions elsewhere.
Explore Edmonton is the city’s visitor economy and venue management organization whose purpose is to increase Edmonton’s tourism. “This is an exciting milestone for Explore Edmonton,” said Maggie Davison, Interim CEO of Explore Edmonton.
“We are proud to work closely with Indigenous tourism business operators to be able to learn and share their history and culture with both locals and visitors. We are committed to promoting Indigenous tourism experiences rooted in the Edmonton region and look forward to many years of partnership with Indigenous Tourism Alberta.”
Explore Edmonton said in a press release that “This represents a concrete example of collaboration between a Canadian Indigenous Tourism organization and a major city’s visitor economy organization.”
“It will help build awareness and positive recognition for Indigenous tourism and allow both organizations to act as public stewards to create and inspire change for the betterment of the Indigenous community. Explore Edmonton and ITA will continue to lead the way by improving economic and social prosperity through Indigenous tourism,” said Explore Edmonton’s release.
This MOU will see Explore Edmonton work in partnership with ITA.
Brenda Holder Chair of the Indigenous Tourism Alberta Board of Directors added, “This memorandum of understanding with Explore Edmonton is a fantastic opportunity to continue to grow the Indigenous tourism industry here in Alberta.”
“Our goal at ITA is to help Indigenous tourism and our industry as a whole, remain competitive and help contribute to the diversification of our provincial economy.”