The Northwest Territories has one of the highest populations of Aboriginal people in Canada, and now its tourism sector is going to reflect that.
The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment introduced an Aboriginal Tourism Champions program Wednesday.
“Our territory is unmatched in its ability to fill the growing market demand for Aboriginal and cultural tourism,” said Wally Schumann, minister of industry, tourism and investment in a statement.
“We are committed to helping communities realize economic opportunities from tourism in the NWT and finding unique and respectful approaches to share the traditional ways, arts and celebrations of our people.”
Roughly 32,000 people are employed by Aboriginal tourism organizations in Canada – about two per cent of the country’s travel sector workforce.
“The vision of the program is to develop a network of Aboriginal champions that will work to strengthen cultural tourism capacity within communities,” the press release read.
“[It will also] motivate organizations to use tourism initiatives as a stimulus for economic development and cultural revitalization.”
The program will work to incorporate elements of Aboriginal culture into Northern tourism operations, and help them to develop their own tourism products.
To be eligible to join the program, a candidate must be of Aboriginal ancestry and have been born or be a resident of the NWT.
The Aboriginal Tourism Champions program comes as part of the Tourism 2020 plan announced earlier this year. It aims to increase visitor spending in the NWT by over 24 per cent.
Tourism 2020 outlined five key areas the GNWT plans to invest in to increase the tourism industry in the territory. Supporting leadership for Aboriginal cultural tourism is one of its primary focuses.
The territorial government says it plans to invest $150,000 dollars into Aboriginal tourism until March 2018.