Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association ready to host the International Indigenous Tourism Conference 2019

Winning collaboration of seven stakeholder groups sets the stage for
8th annual gathering in Kelowna, British Columbia

The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) along with its core partners Indigenous Tourism of British Columbia (ITBC), Tourism Kelowna, Westbank First Nation, Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, Shackan Indian Band, Lower Nicola Indian Band, were chosen as the successful bidder to host the 8th annual International Indigenous Tourism Conference (IITC) in Kelowna, British Columbia in 2019.

Each year, IITC brings together delegates from the Canadian tourism industry, First Nations, Inuit, and Metis communities, as well as representatives from global Indigenous tourism organizations to discuss Indigenous tourism topics, barriers, opportunities and trends across Canada and the world. During the culmination of a successful 7th IITC in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan this week, the announcement of next year’s host destination in the Thompson Okanagan was celebrated yesterday by over 600 delegates.

“TOTA and ITBC have been pioneers in establishing and growing a thriving Indigenous tourism industry in Canada and I am very pleased to see the exceptional collaboration with regional Indigenous communities to ensure IITC is a success next year,” says Keith Henry, CEO & President of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC). “Year over year we have grown this conference and I anticipate IITC 2019 will sell out quickly. Kelowna and the Thompson Okanagan Region will be an equally popular destination.”

“Our Province and Region are so proud and honoured to be selected for such a prestigious and important conference,” noted Glenn Mandziuk, President & CEO of TOTA. “Being able to submit a unified bid from our region’s Interior Salish nations, provincial partners, and Kelowna were keys to our collective success. It further showcases our commitment to sustainable and responsible tourism development through our international Biosphere Destination accreditation.”

During this week’s conference, ITAC announced the demand for Indigenous tourism experiences was at an all-time high, and that ITAC was already exceeding all economic forecast goals originally laid out for 2021. ITAC’s new targets for 2024 will see total Indigenous tourism revenues contributing $2.2 billion to the annual Canadian GDP, 49,383 total jobs in Indigenous tourism, and 200 export-ready indigenous tourism experiences across Canada.

“The commitment of the IITC host destination each year is critical to our ability to inspire and grow the industry in support of this demand. Each of the partners involved with next year’s conference will have their own story to tell and our delegates will only benefit from this level of sharing best practices,” says Henry.

Link to the Welcome Video: ITAC conference announcement

About Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association:

The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) is a non-profit society governed by an elected Board of Directors who represents business and community tourism interests throughout the region and is supported by and representative of Destination British Columbia (DBC). It is an industry-led organization that represents and supports all business and community tourism interests in the region, while also helping to implement provincial tourism policies.

About the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada

The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) works to improve the socio-economic condition of Indigenous peoples through the provisions of economic development advisory services, tourism conferences, capacity development training and workshops, industry research and information for Indigenous tourism operators and communities within the 13 regions; 10 provinces and three territories of Canada. ITAC develops relationships with other groups and regions with similar mandates, uniting the Indigenous tourism industry in Canada and works to enable collective support, product development, promotion and marketing of authentic Indigenous cultural tourism businesses in a respectful protocol. ITAC also just released their brand-new experience guide, detailing Indigenous experiences across Canada, in which visitors can learn about the values of the respect, honour and integrity that guides our communities while discovering the traditional territories, history, people and culture that has been a part of our country for centuries. To download the full 2018/19 Guide to Indigenous Tourism in Canada go to: The ITAC Board is made up of Indigenous tourism industry representatives from each of the provinces and territories. For more information, visit

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