Alberta’s Indigenous tourism industry is set to highlight why it’s poised to lead the way in economic growth for the province during National Tourism Week which runs from May 29 to June 4, 2022.

Shae Bird, CEO of Indigenous Tourism Alberta, said that: “There is still a lot of work to be done, but one thing has been made clear over this past year: the Indigenous tourism industry is in growth mode.”

He continued: “With summer quickly approaching, our Indigenous operators across the province are excited and ready to welcome guests to engage in a wide variety of activities.”

An annual celebration of tourism across Canada, National Tourism Week gets set to kick-off under the theme Travel Now: For Work, Life, and Play. From coast-to-coast-to-coast tourism partners come together to champion and promote Canada’s destinations, tourism businesses and employees.

Playing a vital role in Canada’s future tourism growth is sustainability, a role ITA’s member operators are incredibly familiar with.

Businesses such as Mahikan Trails, Painted Warriors and Hideaway Adventure Grounds continue to actively promote harmony with the land they inhabit and integrate those teachings into each of their offerings.

Tourism is vital to Alberta and Canada and not only for its ability to generate economic activity, but also for its ability to showcase our values.

The COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating impact on tourism across the world, however Indigenous tourism was especially hard hit and operators in Alberta felt those impacts. Now, through the hard work and resilience of operators, 2021 saw modest gains in GDP contribution and employment, setting 2022 up as a year for tremendous growth and opportunity.

Métis Crossing is a pivotal example of the resilience and growing strength of the Indigenous tourism industry.

As Alberta’s first major Métis cultural interpretive destination, Métis Crossing used the pandemic as an opportunity to strengthen its offerings and programs. Metis Crossing’s leaders entered into a joint venture partnership with Visions, Hopes and Dreams to reintroduce bison and heritage species to the newly established Visions, Hopes and Dreams at Métis Crossing Wildlife Park. Additionally, it expanded its hospitality offerings beyond the already established campground facilities to include the newly-opened Lodge at Métis Crossing, a 40-room, boutique luxury lodge overlooking the North Saskatchewan River.

Métis Crossing was able to create these offerings because of the increased interest across Alberta in learning about the land and the Peoples that have inhabited it since time immemorial.

Additionally, across Alberta, ITA members are playing a key role in reconciliation. Members such as Warrior Women, Talking Rock Tours and Buffalo Stone Woman are contributing to the collective understanding of Indigenous viewpoints, history and future by getting visitors connected to the history of the land they inhabit through wilderness education, Indigenous traditions and hands-on training.

ITA’s members across the province are working hard to grow Alberta’s economy.

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