The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) and Vancouver Airport Authority (YVR) have signed a memorandum of understanding today, strengthening a working relationship which will support each organizations’ marketing goals, and contribute to the growth of destinations and key airline partners.
Hosting the partnership celebration was Teara Fraser, owner of Iskwew Air and an important figure in the Indigenous aviation community. Prior to Covid-19, there were over 300 Indigenous tourism businesses operating in BC and over 1,700 Indigenous tourism businesses across Canada.
“As a significant gateway to important domestic and international markets, YVR’s marketing expertise and market intelligence are invaluable as we rebuild Indigenous tourism across Canada,” says ITAC’s President and CEO, Keith Henry. “The exposure we will receive throughout the airport as well as YVR’s acknowledgement of the importance of Indigenous culture and collaborating on marketing initiatives globally will have a significant impact on our recovery strategy.”
As well as the sharing of knowledge, complementary expertise and market intelligence, ITAC and YVR will cooperate in marketing programs in countries of mutual interest. And as a partner with YVR, ITAC will receive significant in-kind marketing support including a minimum of two months of exposure per year. This exposure will include terminal banners, luggage carousel videos and outdoor advertising.
“As we have learned working with Musqueam, whose traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory YVR is on, we play a valuable role connecting Indigenous People across Canada and around the world," says Tamara Vrooman, YVR’s President & CEO. “We are honoured to be the first Canadian airport to sign an MOU with ITAC and we look forward to combining our efforts through shared market intelligence and joint initiatives, all to support capacity-building and the future success of our Indigenous communities.”
The surrounding principle of the MOU is collaboration, including the sharing of marketing insights and research intelligence, as well as best practices regarding research and analytics. Both ITAC and YVR will also increase the awareness by federal, provincial and territorial governments as well as private sector partners on the value of a thriving Indigenous tourism industry to the Canadian economy.
“True reconciliation means supporting Indigenous communities and businesses and providing opportunities for their success,” says the Honourable Melanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages. “Indigenous tourism represents the fastest growing segment of our tourism sector, and we’re here to support it. This new partnership between ITAC and YVR is a perfect example of the collaboration we need, and I’m excited to see the difference that this investment will make for Indigenous tourism in BC and across Turtle Island.”
Prior to 2020, Indigenous tourism was outpacing Canadian tourism activity overall, and international demand for Indigenous experiences was at an all-time high. This summer, ITAC’s focus on the Canadian market has also seen strong returns, through ITAC’s Escape from Home campaign and launch of Destination Indigenous website, which showcases the range of authentic Indigenous experiences across the country, many in remote areas and accessible through major airport hubs such as Vancouver International Airport.