By Jeremy Appel, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – Last week, Indigenous Tourism Alberta (ITA) held its third annual summit, where attendees heard about the role Indigenous tourism can play in shaping the province’s post-pandemic recovery, the CBC reports.
“We have analyzed and taken apart the state of the industry and hopefully started to reverse engineer a proper way for us to move forward,” ITA board chair Brenda Holder told an audience of about 300 people, which included ITA members and representatives of settler institutions, at Grey Eagle Casino on Tsuut’ina Nation territory.
Attendees listened to speakers and participated in panel discussions to learn more about the economic vitality of Indigenous tourism, which Holder said is already playing a key role in the post-COVID recovery, with tourism beginning to rebound.
She said Indigenous peoples have a lot of unique experiences to offer international tourists, with their unique connections to the land.
“There’s culinary experiences, there’s accommodation experiences, there’s heritage sites — so there is a real wide variety. There’s drummers and dancers,” Holder, a Métis woman who operates Indigenous tour business Mahikan Trails, told the CBC.
Travel Alberta CEO David Goldstein — one of the non-Indigenous attendees — told the CBC that Indigenous tourism is a major component of his agency’s three-year recovery plan.
“Those Indigenous stories are quite spectacular, told through, presented through, stood up through tourism product, which is one of the best teaching tools and one of the best experiential tools that we have,” Goldstein said.
Travel Alberta is looking to at least double the $2 billion generated from International travel pre-COVID over the next decade and authentic Indigenous experiences will be crucial to that end, he added.