WestJet and the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) are providing nine, $10,000 grants to Indigenous tourism businesses across Canada that have been devastated by the shutdown of the tourism industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The grants were originally earmarked through the WestJet/ITAC strategic national partnership, signed in November 2019.
The recipients of these grants were given the news in March 2021 and their reactions were captured in a new WestJet/ITAC video, WestJet & ITAC: supporting Indigenous tourism in Canada.
The Indigenous tourism businesses that received the grants will be spotlighted on WestJet's social channels and its newsroom over the next year.
"We are pleased to be able to support these Indigenous businesses as they work their way to recovery," said Angela Avery, WestJet Executive Vice President. "WestJet is a proud partner of ITAC, and is committed to advancing reconciliation by growing opportunities for indigenous entrepreneurs and sharing with the global travel industry the importance of Indigenous tourism, a unique, important and developing sector of Canadian tourism."
Keith Henry, President and CEO of ITAC, said WestJet has been "an amazing partner for ITAC and a true advocate for Indigenous tourism in Canada, championing and collaborating on marketing campaigns, which provide much needed support to Indigenous tourism businesses during this difficult time."
"WestJet has effectively engaged with Indigenous tourism businesses and communities and fully understands the importance of reconciliation and the layered, but necessary, path to achieve it," said Henry.
The WestJet/ITAC strategic national partnership is a three-year commitment that outlines how the airline will foster opportunities for Indigenous tourism by showcasing Indigenous People's culture and history while bringing global audiences to take part in Indigenous tourism experiences.
This summer, WestJet and ITAC are encouraging Canadians to support local tourism organizations, including local Indigenous tourism businesses from coast to coast to coast, while following all public health and safety guidelines.
Destination Canada has stated that if Canadians shift two-thirds of their planned spend on international leisure travel towards domestic tourism, it will make up for the estimated $19 billion shortfall currently facing our visitor economy and will help sustain 150,000 jobs while accelerating recovery by one year.
"The situation facing the travel and tourism industry overall has been devastating," said Avery. "We encourage Canadians to support Indigenous businesses in their communities and across the country when it is safe to do so."
Recipients of the 2020/2021 WestJet/ITAC grants:
Feast Café Bistro: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Moonstone Creation: Calgary, Alberta
Talaysay Tours: Vancouver, British Columbia
Moccasin Trails: Kamloops, British Columbia
Indigenous World Winery: Kelowna, British Columbia
North Star Adventures: Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Aurora Village: Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Indigenous Experiences: Gatineau, Quebec
Miqmak Catering Indigenous Kitchen: Roxboro, Quebec
For more information about the nine recipients, please visit: www.westjet.com/en-ca/best-of-travel/indigenous-travel.
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