Indigenous Tourism is Booming
Antoine’s story is inspirational, but it’s not necessarily unique. Indigenous tourism is booming in all corners of British Columbia, producing record-breaking statistics, opening new territory to visitors and creating important opportunities for First Nations communities.
According to a 2018 report from Indigenous Tourism BC, 401 Indigenous tourism-related businesses operated in the province in 2017. That figure represents a 33 per cent increase over 2014. Indigenous businesses accounted for 7,400 full-time jobs and $705 million in 2016. Those numbers are only expected to grow.
“Indigenous tourism operators (are) optimistic about prospects for their businesses over the next five years,” said the report. “About 75% of them anticipated increasing their staff complements during that period.”
“Indigenous tourism is still a sleeping giant for many Indigenous community leaders, they don’t see it as an economic giant yet,” says Antoine. “But people are starting to be more and more aware of the potential of the land and stories they can tell.”
Part of the success, as always, is tied to BC’s astonishing diversity. Whether visitors want an urban experience, culinary journey, deep dive into First Nations’ history, or a flat-out, hair-raising adventure, Indigenous tourism operators in the province offer world-class opportunities.