The 2015 Pacific Asia Indigenous Tourism Conference
The World Indigenous Tourism Alliance are the custodians of the Pacific Asia Indigenous Tourism Conference (PAITC), hosted this year and beginning September 12 in the traditional territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations and in partnership with the Aboriginal Tourism Association of British Columbia (ATBC).
PAITC will focus on the international opportunity for engagement and sharing by all peoples who have an interest in promoting, implementing and celebrating achievements in fostering Indigenous self-determination through participation in tourism. This focus is consistent with the principles of the Larrakia Declaration on the Development of Indigenous Tourism, which was adopted by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and endorsed by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in 2012. It represents the most important statement of commitment from the tourism sector that it intends to take on an active role in giving practical effect to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
Acclaimed speakers at this year’s conference include Dr. Wade Davis of the National Geographic Society, Chris Bottrill on the PATA Human Capital Development Committee, and Mike Willie of Sea Wolf Adventures. “Indigenous tourism is very important to indigenous peoples,” said Johnny Edmonds, secretariat coordinator for World Indigenous Tourism Alliance, an indigenous-led advocacy nonprofit. “It provides them with the opportunity for self-determination and is typically associated with activity in which indigenous people are directly involved through control and/or by enabling their culture to serve as the essence of the attraction.”
A visit to British Columbia is not complete without at least one Aboriginal tourism experience. BC’s Aboriginal tourism industry has some of the most diverse and best developed operators in the world, especially when it comes to indigenous cultural tourism. The range of First Nation experiences available to visitors, which can last a week, a day or a few hours, is thanks to the passion and dedication of so many First Nations tourism operators and communities.
Vancouver itself is home to the recently opened Skwachays Lodge an excellent example of indigenous tourism that’s accessible but also authentic. Filled with art as social enterprise, some by artists in residence, and topped by a 40′ totem pole the boutiques hotel has a big wow factor. The Bill Reid Gallery and several world class museums (MOA,MCC,MOV) also feature culturally highly significant works And artifacts regarded by the First Nations here as belongings of their heritage.
The farm and sea to table First nation Cuisine of Salmon’n’ Bannock restaurant is another delicious facet of the experience. Examples of some groups that ensure genuine experiences include Aboriginal Tourism Association of British Columbia (ATBC), Western Australian Indigenous Tourism Operators Council, Indigenous New Zealand and American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association. All have websites that provide itinerary planning and booking tools for various indigenous tourism experiences.
“When people say they want an authentic travel experience, there’s nothing truer than those of indigenous origin. They are the original guides; they know the land better than anyone else,” says Kate Rogers who works with ATBC on media.