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Aboriginal Tourism in British Columbia: Sharing A Rich, Ancient Culture With The World

Jul 09, 2015
Credit : GMI Post


Tracing back their history to thousands of years, British Columbia’s Aboriginal people – known collectively as First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples – enjoy a rich and deep culture that has stood the test of time. The vast lands of British Columbia are home to a people who managed to preserve their traditional way of life, still deeply imbibed in deep spirituality and defined by a strong connection to the wilderness and nature.

Spoiled for Choice: Aboriginal Tourism in British Columbia offers a wide variety of extraordinary travel experiences.

As British Columbia’s tourism industry sees an increasing number of visitors, the appeal of and demand for an authentic and different cultural experience has only grown more popular particularly among international travelers.

“It's not a true Canadian experience unless you have an authentic Aboriginal experience as part of your overall itinerary,” said Keith Henry, the president and CEO of Aboriginal Tourism Association of British Columbia (AtBC), a non-profit organization committed to promoting a sustainable and culturally faithful aboriginal tourism industry.

“We want to make sure that visitors from any country really understand the real story of Canada. Canada is thousands of years old. If you think of Egypt and their history, frankly we have similar history in Canada. We just haven't told our story,” added Henry.

This untold story, fuelled by a deep desire by the Aboriginal communities to share their heritage, is contained in the different efforts to immerse visitors into their culture and way of life.

“One of the unique things for the Aboriginal community here in British Columbia is that all our businesses are owned by our own people,” said Henry.

From authentic accommodations, outdoor adventures, and varying sorts of cultural centers, the province of British Columbia offers an unmatched diversity of options for all kinds of travellers, with nearly 75 percent of tourism and establishments related to Aboriginal tourism.

To illustrate this diversity, British Columbia has 203 Aboriginal communities made up of 200,000 Aboriginal people who speak approximately 40 different languages and dialects.

“We hear it all the time from people. People walk away from the experience with a different perception of life in general. It’s a life-changing experience,” said Henry.

Presently, British Columbia’s Aboriginal tourism industry contributes $35 million to the provincial economy and generates around 3,000 jobs within the Aboriginal communities.

“It's a win-win situation. It's one of the strongest economic drivers and culture revitalization in British Columbia that we have seen in years. It's a really great story,” he said.

In recent years, Asia has played a significant role in popularizing Aboriginal tourism.

With 10,000 visitors annually coming from the Asia-Pacific region, AtBC is looking to double that number within the next three years.

To meet that objective, AtBC will host the 2nd Pacific Asia Indigenous Tourism and Trade Conference between September 12 and 14 in Vancouver. The event will focus on the opportunities to promote and celebrate Indigenous tourism in the region. It will also allow participants, particularly from Asia, to gain a deeper understanding of how Aboriginal Tourism can enhance travel to Canada.

“The Asia-Pacific Region is critical to us. It's really our number one priority,” Henry said.

As of this year, the province boasts of 80 "export-ready" Aboriginal experiences. Because of strong demand, AtBC is working with around 100 businesses wanting to increase their capacity to work with tour operators in Korea, Japan and China.

“We really want to work directly with the tour operators from all the countries in the Asia-Pacific,” Henry also said.

With its diverse product offerings and well-established infrastructure to accommodate travellers, British Columbia offers Asian visitors an extraordinary travel experience by taking part in the everyday lives of its aboriginal communities.

“This is the most authentic and unique experience you are going to have in Canada. We believe it’s unforgettable,” said Henry. 

Discover Your Opportunity in Niagara

Jul 09, 2015
Credit : GMI Post


“Niagara” – probably one of the widest known global brands – has much more going for it than its famous waterfall. The Niagara Region’s non-tourism economic base plays a significant role in stimulating Ontario’s economy.

Niagara Economic Development Director Bob Seguin

Because of its strategic and accessible location in North America, favorable investment conditions, and growing number of entrepreneurs and innovators, the Niagara Region is expanding its traditional base of agri-food and manufacturing to encompass a varied range of advanced technology applications that include aerospace, greenhouses, biotech, to high quality stainless steel.

The new TEAM NIAGARA Economic Development Action Plan, drafted with the help of the region’s officials, reflects the ambitions of all 12 municipalities in the area and serves as a road map to achieve its enormous potential.

Through partnerships with Innovate Niagara, Brock University, Niagara College, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre and the District School Board of Niagara, Niagara Economic Development is able to assist entrepreneurs and innovators in improving their products and services.

Over the past few years, a number of Niagara’s homegrown brands have attracted a rising number of global companies, with notable growth coming from Asia. Niagara Economic Development wants to capitalize on this increased activity and introduce more Canadian products to the global marketplace.

In past years, Asian businesses have expressed significant interest in Niagara’s grape growing and wine industry, with the classic Canadian Icewine emerging as a favorite.

“We recognize the importance of the expanding Asian marketplace. We are identifying opportunities and building relationships. Very many Asians visit to see Niagara Falls, but we are encouraging more of these visitors to take the time to explore ‘the full Niagara’ with business interests in mind. We are finding a growing interest in the wide range of business opportunities Niagara and Asia represent for each other,” said Niagara Economic Development Director Bob Seguin.

Canada 2015 was prepared for and originally printed in Forbes Asia magazine.

PDF of the printed report

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