Government of Canada launches major new initiative to support Indigenous tourism

News release

New funding will support large-scale “signature” Indigenous tourism projects

May 9, 2024 – Gatineau, Quebec 

Indigenous tourism helps advance economic reconciliation, while allowing the sharing of Indigenous cultures and histories across Canada. That’s why supporting its growth, in close partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, is one of the Government of Canada’s top priorities. One of the many ways in which the government invests in Indigenous tourism is through the Indigenous Tourism Fund (ITF), a $20 million investment in both large and small Indigenous projects. The first stream of the ITF, the Micro and Small Business Stream, was launched in November 2023 and has already supported 145 projects across the country.

Today, the Honourable Soraya Martinez Ferrada, Minister of Tourism and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, announced the launch of the ITF’s Signature Indigenous Tourism Experiences Stream (SITES). With $10 million in federal funding, SITES will support major Indigenous tourism projects, awarding contributions of $500,000 to $1.25 million. The funded projects will build on existing tourism destinations, many of which are located around significant cultural and natural sites in Indigenous communities. Minister Ferrada made the announcement as part of the 2024 Indigenous Prosperity Forum.

This funding, part of the broader $20 million ITF, will support key experiences that anchor tourism destinations in Indigenous communities, and it will help develop the infrastructure and services needed for tourism. Today’s announcement underscores the government’s commitment to working with Indigenous leaders and communities to help grow Indigenous tourism.

The National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA) will deliver SITES. An umbrella organization for more than 50 Indigenous financial institutions, NACCA has over 35 years of experience in Indigenous economic development. NACCA’s successful track record, its robust network and the significant contributions of its members—which have collectively facilitated $3.3 billion in loans to Indigenous businesses—make it an ideal partner to manage this Indigenous-led process.

SITES will support projects that make Indigenous tourism sites more accessible, encourage overnight stays and boost spending. It will favour initiatives that can anchor larger tourism destinations and attract other sources of financing. NACCA will also lead a committee, including representatives from the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada and provincial and territorial Indigenous tourism organizations, to assist in identifying and evaluating projects. This committee will ensure that projects contribute positively to communities and can attract further investment. NACCA will oversee the application process, disburse funds, monitor project progress and make all final funding decisions.


“Indigenous tourism has the power to advance economic reconciliation while allowing Indigenous communities to share their cultures and histories. That’s why helping it grow and thrive is one of our top priorities. Through this Indigenous-led process, we are supporting communities, and the tourism businesses in those communities, in making their own decisions and developing tourism at their own pace. I am so excited to see how this funding will make ‘signature projects’ a reality in so many Indigenous communities.”
– The Honourable Soraya Martinez Ferrada, Minister of Tourism and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

NACCA is pleased to oversee the implementation of the Signature Indigenous Tourism Experiences Stream (SITES) programming, aimed at enhancing tourism offerings within First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities. Our ISO 9001 certification underscores our commitment to quality and reinforces our reputation as a trusted partner of the Government of Canada. With a rich history and extensive experience in Indigenous lending and business support across all sectors of the economy, NACCA and the network of Indigenous financial institutions are well equipped to assist Indigenous businesses. NACCA takes great pride in helping Indigenous businesses feature vibrant cultures while bolstering local economies through tourism.”
– Shannin Metatawabin, CEO, National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association

Quick facts

  • Before the pandemic, Indigenous tourism was the fastest-growing segment in the Canadian tourism market, posting significant gains in job creation and contributions to Canada’s GDP. 

  • The Indigenous tourism industry was particularly hard hit by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and has been slower to recover.

  • Budget 2022 dedicated $20 million to the Indigenous Tourism Fund (ITF) to aid the industry’s recovery from the pandemic. 

  • The Micro and Small Business Stream of the ITF was launched on November 2023. As of March 28, 2024, the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada has approved 145 program applications, or $3,603,490 in support.

  • In addition, at least 15% of the Tourism Growth Program from Budget 2023 will be invested in Indigenous tourism sites.


Associated links


Marie-Justine Torres
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Tourism and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

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