The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC), in partnership with WestJet, has officially announced the finalists for the 2024 Indigenous Tourism Awards.
The announcement precedes the awards ceremony, set to take place on February 28, during the International Indigenous Tourism Conference (IITC) in Ottawa, Ontario, located on unceded Algonquin Anishinaabeg Territory.
This annual event, a cornerstone of the IITC, serves not only as a celebration of the achievements of Indigenous tourism operators across Canada but also as a vital platform for promoting Indigenous culture, heritage, and economic development within the tourism industry.
ITAC’s recognition extends to Indigenous-owned tourism associations, businesses, entrepreneurs, and individuals who have shown exceptional leadership, partnership, development, marketing, and adherence to business ethics.
These awards highlight the diverse and rich contributions of Indigenous peoples to Canada’s tourism sector, underscoring the importance of authenticity, sustainability, and the promotion of Indigenous tourism.
Keith Henry, CEO and President of ITAC, emphasized the significance of the awards in honoring the dedication of Indigenous tourism operators to authenticity and sustainability. “These remarkable operators exemplify the diversity of our industry, inspiring others to embark on their own journeys of discovery and connection,” Henry stated, expressing eagerness to celebrate the achievements of Indigenous entrepreneurs across the nation.
The 2024 awards saw over 110 nominations, reflecting the growing recognition and importance of Indigenous tourism experiences from coast to coast. Nominees are required to be majority Indigenous-owned or controlled and offer tourism experiences or related services that contribute significantly to the cultural and economic landscape of their communities.
Among the categories announced were the Extraordinary Female Entrepreneur, Leading the Way in Sustainability, Exceptional Industry Leader and The Original Original Star, Provincial or Territorial Association of the Year, Exceptional Cultural Experience, Outstanding Staff Person, Leading the Way in Business Development (Community-based), Indigenous Culinary Tourism Award, and New Operator or Business that Launched a New Experience.
These categories encompass a wide range of achievements, from environmental sustainability and cultural experiences to leadership in business development and culinary innovation. They highlight the multifaceted nature of Indigenous tourism and its capacity to offer unique, authentic experiences that resonate with visitors and contribute to the preservation of Indigenous cultures and traditions.
The awards also serve as a testament to the resilience and innovation of Indigenous tourism operators in the face of challenges, showcasing their ability to create sustainable, culturally rich tourism experiences that attract visitors from around the world. This not only supports economic development within Indigenous communities but also plays a crucial role in the broader outdoor recreation, outdoor hospitality, and tourism industry in Canada.
By recognizing and celebrating these achievements, ITAC and its partners aim to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of Indigenous cultures, encourage sustainable tourism practices, and support the growth of the Indigenous tourism sector. The 2024 Indigenous Tourism Awards thus represent a significant milestone in the ongoing effort to elevate Indigenous tourism in Canada and beyond, offering a model for how tourism can be leveraged as a force for cultural preservation, economic development, and mutual understanding.
To see the full list of finalists, visit ITAC’s 2024 Indigenous Tourism Awards Finalists Announced – Indigenous Tourism Industry News.