A new logo will help you better identify authentic Canadian Indigenous tourism experiences

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 indigenous trademarkThe 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.

Holland America Line’s Alaska cruises will bypass Vancouver this year

Holland America Line announces plans to restart cruising to Alaska on July 24, 2021 sailing roundtrip from Seattle. Seven-day itineraries aboard Nieuw Amsterdam will call at Juneau, Icy Strait Point, Sitka and Ketchikan.

Holland America Line’s announcement Thursday that it plans to restart cruising to Alaska roundtrip from Seattle, Washington aboard Nieuw Amsterdam in July is not good news for Vancouver.

The cruises can bypass their traditional stops in Vancouver because of the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act which passed the Senate by bipartisan agreement last week. It exempts cruises from Seattle to Alaska from abiding by the 19th-century law known as the Passenger Vessel Services Act which requires foreign-flagged cruise ships to make a stop in another country when travelling between domestic ports.

Canada has banned foreign cruise ships from docking in this country until February 2021 which had thrown this year’s Alaska cruise season into crisis mode.

The measure is supposed to be temporary and is meant to expire when Canada reopens its ports to cruise ships, or at the end of next February, whichever happens first, but there’s no reason for it not to become permanent if American lawmakers wanted it to.

Bookings are open for the 10 Saturday departures that will operate from July 24 through October 2, 2021. The seven-day “Alaskan Explorer” itinerary calls at Juneau, Icy Strait Point, Sitka and Ketchikan. Scenic cruising in Alaska’s iconic locales includes Glacier Bay and Stephens Passage.

“Holland America Line has been cruising to Alaska for nearly 75 years, and we feel deeply committed to trying to help our friends in ‘The Great Land’ get back on their feet in any way we can this summer,” said Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line in a press release. “Given the recent positive collaboration from the CDC, as well as optimism about a resolution with the PVSA, we feel like it’s now or never to give ourselves a chance to bring cruising back to Alaska this year.

Parks Canada offers reminders for visitors on how to stay safe this summer

Parks Canada campground

Spending time outdoors in nature has a number of health and wellness benefits, something that has become apparent throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

With uncertainty about what exactly will be open for Canadians this summer as they seek places to spend their holidays,  having access to national historic sites and national parks to get outside while following the guidance of public health experts, has been more important than ever.

As Parks Canada kicks off its 2021 visitor season over the May long-weekend, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Jonathan Wilkinson, reminded Canadians of the importance of getting outdoors while following public health guidance and staying safe.

“Over the past year, so many Canadians have benefited from the health and wellness benefits that come from being outdoors and in nature. I too have taken every opportunity to get outside,” said Wilkinson in a press release. “National historic sites, national parks, and national marine conservation areas offer countless opportunities for Canadians to safely connect with nature and history while following the guidance of public health authorities to help limit the spread of COVID-19.”

In 2020, Parks Canada took health and safety measures including operating campgrounds at a reduced capacity, adjusting the capacity and visitor flow of indoor spaces such as visitor centres, historic buildings and washrooms, and modifying interpretative activities, to ensure that Canadians across the country could continue to enjoy nature.

This season will once again be different than previous years. Visitor access and services will vary across the country depending on local circumstances and only services where health and safety risks can be properly managed will be opened.

Before visiting, there are a few things that everyone should remember:

Plan ahead. The Parks Canada website provides detailed information on what locations are open, what to expect, how to prepare, and what services are available. Be sure to check the website before you visit.

Follow travel restrictions and respect the guidance of public health experts. We all need to do our part to limit the spread of COVID-19 and keep one another safe. It is important to always follow travel restrictions, even when visiting national parks and national historic sites.

Make safe choices. Choose activities that correspond with your level of experience in order to help minimize the demands on emergency response, search and rescue teams, and on the health care system.

Be self-sufficient. Pack a kit that includes extra hygiene supplies such as hand sanitizer, soap, masks or face coverings, garbage bags and a tablecloth. You should be prepared to bring your own water and food.

Leave no trace. Help us keep these special places clean by using appropriate garbage containers or by taking all your garbage with you.

Respect wildlife. Learn more about the wildlife in the park or site you will be visiting, remember to never feed wildlife, always give them space, maintain a clean campsite, respect closures and speed limits, and keep your dog on a leash at all times.

Further information and tips for a safe and enjoyable visit are available on the Parks Canada website at: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/voyage-travel/securite-safety/covid-19-info/covid-19-visite-visit.

Americans ready to fly, but not as keen on cruises and crowds: Survey

While many people never stopped travelling for pleasure during the pandemic, the vast majority of us have been stuck at our home base for more than a year. There’s clearly a pent-up demand for travel and the United States is a good bellwether for what happens once more Canadians are fully vaccinated against COVID.

By all accounts, flights and holiday bookings are ramping up this summer in the U.S., but are there still people who are going to wait a bit longer?

Invisibly used it’s Realtime Research tool to poll 2,799 Americans to find out how they feel about returning to airplanes and cruises and compared the results to an identical survey done in July 2020.

A selection of the results are illustrated below. It would seem that some people are playing it safe this summer. For a detailed breakdown of the survey methodology and expanded results, check them out here.


Blue Jays spring-training home of Dunedin, Florida ready to welcome Canadian visitors again

Dunedin TD Ballpark Florida baseball

If you’re a Toronto Blue Jays fan, you won’t be able to see them play any home games until the COVID situation in Ontario improves, but you might be able to catch a game if you can get to Florida.

The Major League Baseball team has been playing its home games in its spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida since opening day and the original plan was that would last until May 21 which would amount to 22 games, or 27 per cent of the home schedule.

The way things are going in Canada’s largest province with the pandemic, it’s probably a good bet that their stay there will be extended, although there is talk of playing some games in Buffalo, New York, if necessary. At least it would be closer to home, but I’d imagine fans (and probably players) would rather see their team play in the Sunshine State if they had the chance.

A delegation from Visit Florida met with media and travel advisors last week to pitch the attractions of Dunedin which has been the springtime home to the Jays for the past 44 years when they play at TD Ballpark,  which has been newly renovated as a state-of-the-art player development facility.

More akin to a minor-league ballpark, the intimate stadium is a great place to catch a game, especially during February and March when the Jays would normally be playing Cactus League pre-season baseball.

Located on the state’s west coast near Clearwater, Dunedin has more to offer visitors than just baseball, including the thing that all sun-starved Canadians crave during the cold months and that’s ready access to an abundance of beautiful beaches.

Among the beaches nearby include St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island Beach and Clearwater Beach, which frequently top lists as the best beaches in the United States. If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, the Visit Florida Beach Finder Tool will help you find a beach to suit your tastes. The state has 1,327 kilometers of beaches so you’re bound to find something.

There’s a Dunedin in Scotland and this cit,y with its quaint downtown filled with antique shops, art galleries and inviting restaurants, shares the name because it was founded in 1899 by a pair of Scotsman. Those Scottish roots remain strong.

“We are one of the only cities in our state that has bagpiping as a part of the school band for middle school and our high school and we also have an adult city band that on any given day you can see a bagpiper on the pier and our marina,” said Dunedin Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski. “We also host a one of the largest Highland Games and Celtic festivals.”

Bujalski said Dunedin’s downtown is one of its great strengths.

“Most of the things that are going on in downtown are restaurants and retail and they’re all independently owned, so you’re not going to find these places anywhere else except in Dunedin and we’re very, very proud of that. So in other words, no chains, and we guarantee that you’re going to get to know the name of your local bartender or waitress or even owner of a restaurant,” she said.

“We are really known for our breweries as well we have eight breweries in our city and we partner with visit St. Pete/ Clearwater on brewery tours,” said Bujalski, adding that the city is proud that is home to the state’s oldest microbrewery, Dunedin Brewery.

And, of course, because it’s by the sea, Dunedin boasts a wonderful marina where you’re going to find great seafood, fishing and dolphin-watching charters and the ferry that will take you to Clearwater Beach.

The mayor added that the city is also known for the arts, so you’ll find galleries, mural tours, a history museum, historical walking tours and even the state’s largest arts-teaching facility.

“Interestingly enough, we have all of this and we’re only 38,000 people that live here, and we’re only 10 square miles, so we are packed full. And then, almost every weekend you’re going to find a festival,” she said.

“But of course, along with our beaches, we have baseball, and we couldn’t be more proud to be the original home for the Toronto Blue Jays’ spring training. We just love them. We have been so thrilled to have been able to sign a deal to have them here for another 25 years,” concluded Bujalski. “We’re really proud and want to welcome you back and hope that we get to see you soon.”