Just in time for in time for Indigenous People’s Day, the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) announced the launch of their new campaign Monday, The Original Original.
The campaign aims to educate travellers, modernize their perception of Indigenous experiences and rebuild the industry, which was disproportionately devastated by the pandemic.
A key component of The Original Original is a new brand mark that will help travellers better identify and book experiences from Indigenous-owned tourism businesses across Canada.
“The Original Original campaign is a reflection of our communities as they really are: diverse, authentic, empowered and current,” said Keith Henry, president and CEO of ITAC. “Our greater mandate at ITAC is to leverage tourism to help support the revitalization and broader understanding of Indigenous culture in a way that contributes positively to Indigenous communities. The Original Original mark supports this mandate by helping travellers better distinguish and support authentic businesses, and lift our voices.”
The Original Original mark identifies tourism businesses that have been vetted by ITAC using four key criteria: the business is at least 51 per cent Indigenous-owned, it’s a business that embraces the values of Indigenous tourism, it offers a market or export-ready experience, and is an ITAC member.
The Original Original mark artwork aims to explore the ethos of this very concept by placing two letter O’s within each other, representing the world, as well as the cycle of life. At the centre of these circles is a fire symbol that possesses a single flame, but is divided into three parts. This distinction represents each of the three groups of Indigenous Peoples in Canada: First Nation, Métis and Inuit. Through this branded mark, ITAC aims to further develop wide-spread recognition of authentic Indigenous experiences across the country.
The Indigenous tourism industry was disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Prior to March 2020, Indigenous tourism was a fast growing industry, which brought an estimated $1.9 billion in revenue to Canada’s gross domestic product. At that time, there were an estimated 40,000 Indigenous tourism employees and 1,900 Indigenous-led businesses. Today there are an estimated 15,000 employees and 1,000 businesses left.
Canadians interested in helping to rebuild the Indigenous tourism industry can do so by visiting Indigenous tourism destinations from coast to coast to coast at www.destinationIndigenous.ca to book an Indigenous experience.