Aboriginal Tourism

Aboriginal tourism deals specifically with culturally reflective tourism activities offered by First Nations and Métis people. It can range from an individual start-up entrepreneur offering an authentic cultural experience, to a large community-based facility like an interpretive centre. Aboriginal tourism activities are diverse in spectrum, ranging from arts and crafts to large events like pow-wows or rodeos. Aboriginal cultural tourism can benefit all community members by:

  • Protecting and providing opportunities for community members to connect to cultural practices in a manner that reflects honour and distinction;
  • Encouraging the sharing of local cultural perspectives with visitors while dispelling negative stereotypes of Aboriginal people;
  • Allowing for new partnerships with neighbors, businesses and governments;
  • Providing a wide range of employment and entrepreneurial opportunities within the community that reflect and build on a community's cultural heritage; and
  • Offering specific skills development opportunities for support staff, front-line staff and management

Aboriginal Tourism - Product Development

Start-up Operators
As a start-up tourism operator, or someone merely considering starting an Aboriginal tourism operation, you should be prepared to undertake a detailed assessment of the scope, viability and sustainability of your proposed project. Listed below are some areas where Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation may be able to assist you:

  • Assistance for both communities and entrepreneurs in pursuing economic growth and diversification through Aboriginal cultural tourism;
  • Community-based tourism planning;
  • Developing strategies for enhanced and sustainable community based tourism development; and
  • Providing business information and advisory services.

Existing Operators
As an existing Aboriginal tourism operator you are likely interested in growing your business and attracting new markets. Some important questions to ask could include:

  • Is your operation market ready?
  • Are there any developmental or operational issues outstanding?
  • Do you meet or exceed the expectations of your clientele? If not, which deficiencies can you address to meet your clients' or market's needs, and how can you do it?

Market Ready Operators
To be considered market ready, an operator will have achieved some consistency in service delivery and operational experience. Travel Alberta, in coordination with Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation, is available to work closely with market ready operators to increase their development and marketing initiatives.

Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation can collaborate with you in assessing your intended goals and assist you in meeting them. Some of the services we can provide include business and industry development and marketing information and operational assessments to help you identify your operational strengths and weaknesses.

If you are interested in any tourism related information or, if you wish the Aboriginal Tourism Advisor to meet with you or your community on how to improve your tourism development and marketing opportunities, please feel free to contact:

Loren Winnick,
Manager, Resource Management and Development

Please note: The Tourism Division of Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation is not a direct funding source for development or marketing activities. However, it can provide business information and advisory services including information of potential funding sources.

Aboriginal Tourism - Industry Development

Advocacy and Skills
Blue Quills First Nations College
Métis Nation of Alberta
Native Friendship Centres
Oteenow, Employment & Training Society
Portage College
The office of the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations
Treaty 7 Management Corporation
Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta

Marketing and Development
Travel Alberta
Tourism Destination Competitiveness Branch

Aboriginal Tourism - Research

Alberta studies:
Alberta Aboriginal Tourism Product Opportunity Analysis - March 2002
North-Central Alberta Aboriginal Study presentation on Key findings - 2007

Canadian studies:
Demand for Aboriginal Culture Products in Key European Markets 2000

Aboriginal Tourism - Resources

Provincial Government

Federal Government


Non-Governmental Organizations

Last reviewed/revised: December 9, 2013