Indigenous tourism group frets for future over funding gap in federal budget


OTTAWA – A group representing thousands of Indigenous-led tourism operators says it doesn’t think the recent federal budget will do enough to help the industry avoid collapse.

What’s more, the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada is on the verge of handing out layoff notices to its staff over what it says is a shortfall in federal funding pledged earlier this month.

The association asked the government for just over $68 million over three years to help the sector by providing operating grants and a marketing campaign among other measures.

Instead, there was about $2.4 million for this year that the association’s chief executive says isn’t enough for it to provide targeted help.

Tourism Minister Melanie Joly says she understands the association’s concerns and intends to figure out a way forward.

She points to work in the past through regional development agencies, whom Joly oversees, to get support to Indigenous operators as one financial option to keep businesses in the small, but growing, sector from going under.