Details of a new world Indigenous tourism association announced

Thursday, February 29th, 2024 12:26pm


Image Caption

Destination Original International Tourism (DO-IT) was given a soft launch at the International Indigenous Tourism Conference on Feb. 28 in Ottawa. Photo by Simon Radcliffe.


“This signifies a monumental step towards amplifying Indigenous voices in the global tourism arena.” — Sherry Rupert, the CEO of the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association
By Sam Laskaris
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Leading Indigenous tourism representatives from three countries—Canada, United States and New Zealand—announced that a new collective, Destination Original International Tourism (DO-IT), will soon be formed.

The announcement was made during a presentation at the International Indigenous Tourism Conference on Feb. 28 during the third and final day of the event held in Ottawa.

The three founding members of the DO-IT organization are the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC), the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) and New Zealand Māori Tourism (NZMT).

The goal of the DO-IT association is to help develop and market authentic Indigenous tourism destinations around the world. The thinking is that having a global association will not only help various national associations work more closely together but will also give them a more unified voice and larger presence.

“We’ve been talking for quite some time with other international Indigenous tourism organizations who felt that we just don’t have a visible voice in the international space around coordinating Indigenous tourism,” said Keith Henry, the CEO and president of ITAC. 

“There has just not been a (credible) voice for international Indigenous tourism.” Though he said some attempts have been made to market Indigenous tourism globally.

“There have been organizations out there that have just come and gone,” he said. “And just some individuals, mom and pop stuff. They never really formed on a membership basis and they never really got moving. It’s time to really get organized.”

ITAC, AIANTA and NZMT are the world’s three largest Indigenous tourism associations.

“We feel it’s time and we have enough grassroots movement in enough countries that we can take that place now,” Henry said of DO-IT.

The announcement at the Ottawa conference was deemed a soft launch of the association.

“We’re going to be up and going within the next six months,” Henry said. “We’ve already got the bylaws, which are being finalized. We’ll be finalizing our corporation very shortly. And we’ve all committed to investment supports to get this off the ground.”

Henry said national Indigenous tourism associations from several other countries will soon be joining the DO-IT initiative.

“We’re already reaching out to others,” he said. “There’s probably another 15 or so national organizations out there that we’re going to continue to help them understand where we’re going with this.”

These other Indigenous tourism associations are based in South America, Europe and Asia.

“We just want to make sure we’re all starting at the same level and are all Indigenous-led, Indigenous supported organizations,” Henry said.

Sherry Rupert, the CEO of AIANTA, believes launching the DO-IT organization is indeed a huge deal.

“This signifies a monumental step towards amplifying Indigenous voices in the global tourism arena,” she said. “Together, DO-IT will pave the way for the development and marketing of sustainable and authentic Indigenous tourism experiences. Not only it is our time to shine but this will offer consumers the perfect platform to see and be aware of original experiences anywhere they travel in the world.”

Pania Tyson-Nathan, NZMT’s CEO, echoed this sentiment.

“Rooted in our shared vision, we will safeguard the wellbeing of our Indigenous communities, cherish and preserve our cultural heritages, and honour and protect our wildlife and environment,” she said. “As courageous and ambitious leaders in international Indigenous tourism, our dedication extends to the care and hospitality of our visitors, ensuring their experience is respectful.

“Through our endeavours, we will enrich cultural wealth in harmony with Mother Earth. We look forward in the implementation and full launch of this organization with our partners and start onboarding new Indigenous destinations very soon. Our possibilities are endless.”