(Timmins, ON) – Two leading organizations in Ontario’s tourism industry have signed a ground-breaking Memorandum of Understanding that will pave the way for them to increasingly work together on mutually beneficial tourism projects. The signing ceremony, between Kevin Eshkawkogan, President and CEO of Indigenous Tourism Ontario (ITO) and Marty Kalagian of Destination Northern Ontario (DNO), took place this morning at the Northern Ontario Tourism Summit, held this year in Timmins.
A cornerstone of the agreement is the partnership between the two organizations on the development of a Northern Ontario Indigenous Food Tourism Strategy, now nearing completion after extensive industry consultation. The strategy has been developed as a pilot project for the rest of Ontario and, over time, other parts in Canada and aligns with the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada’s (ITAC) RISE Indigenous tourism standards recognition program as well as DNO’s Tourism Excellence North initiative. The project included development of an Indigenous Food Tourism Standards & Best Practices Checklist, to be contributed to the industry at large. The strategy development process is being presented at ATLAS Latin America in Bogota this month and it was recently featured in a United Nations World Tourism Organization newsletter.
Eshkawkogan said that the project has positioned the partners as pioneers of inclusive food tourism development. But that, he said, is just the start of working to develop food tourism together.
“Destination Northern Ontario has always been proactive in reaching out to work with the Indigenous tourism sector to help to grow our industry which is so vitally important to tourism here in the North and in our province. It is our plan to consult on a regular basis to ensure that we continue to play a cutting-edge role in that development”, he said.
Kalagian pointed to growing demand for Indigenous experiences worldwide.
“As overseas travellers increasingly look to Northern Ontario as a destination of choice for unique cultural experiences, the time could not be better to be embarking on this journey with our partners”, he said.
Destination Northern Ontario is one of 13 regional tourism organizations in the province and operates in the area north of the French River, west of the Ottawa River to the Manitoba border and north to the saltwater coast. It works to with tourism businesses, professionals and destinations at a local, regional and global level to build a strong tourism industry in the North.
Indigenous Tourism Ontario is the province’s first and only dedicated Indigenous organization that focuses on uniting communities, Indigenous organizations to support the growth of Indigenous tourism in Ontario.