Indigenous Tourism Groups Join Together to Form New Association

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Indigenous tourism groups are coming together to expand their global presence and coordination.

Three Indigenous tourism groups said Wednesday that they are joining together to push for international promotion and advocacy under a new association called Destination Original International Tourism.

New Zealand Māori Tourism, the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association and the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada announced the launch at the International Indigenous Tourism Conference in Ottawa, Canada. The groups also shared their proposed logo.

“We felt that it’s time to really bring everyone together under truly an international Indigenous-led tourism industry body,” said Keith Henry, president and CEO of the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association.

There are 15 Indigenous tourism bodies globally, but they are still in their early stages of development. A space for all these groups to coordinate, collaborate and share information is missing. “There’s a lack of coordination across many different countries,” said Henry.

Bigger Voice for Indigenous Tourism on International Stage

The founding associations want to create a certification and consistent presence that helps travelers understand where authentic Indigenous tourism experiences are around the world.

“ITB [Berlin], WTM [World Travel Market], all these kinds of international shows where, rather than us just having a sprinkling of operators within each country, let’s create an international space there,” said Henry. “Let’s bring international expo ready, tourism businesses to that space and elevate the profile of Indigenous tourism in the world.”

Another aim of the new organization is to have a bigger voice within international tourism bodies. “One of the tables we believe we need to be at is the United Nations World Tourism Organization [UN Tourism],” said Henry. “We want to have an international, Indigenous industry voice at that table.”

The founding associations are pooling money together to build the new organization. Canada’s and New Zealand’s associations are each investing 75,000 CAD (around $55,000). The U.S.’s  tourism group is finalizing how much it’s going to invest.

The membership process should unfold over the six months, said Henry. The non-profit structure, budget, the CEO position and other details are still being hashed out.

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