Indigenous Tourism Alberta (ITA) and WestJet have signed a three-year strategic partnership agreement that sees the airline bolstering its support for Indigenous travel and tourism. The partnership is intended to create meaningful employment opportunities for Indigenous Canadians as the airline grows its global presence.
The new partners officially signed a memorandum of understanding at ITA's annual Gathering in the presence of more than 300 travel and tourism partners and government representatives on Treaty 6, Métis Region 4, Edmonton Alberta.
"We are grateful to build upon our meaningful partnership and continued collaboration with ITA as we work together to foster important opportunities for Indigenous travel and tourism businesses and entrepreneurs right here in our home province," said Angela Avery, WestJet Group Executive Vice-President and Chief People, Corporate & Sustainability Officer.
"As Alberta's home carrier, we provide service to seven communities across the province and have built our global hub in Calgary, which benefits all of Western Canada. Indigenous tourism and the history, stories and culture that accompany it, are essential to growing Alberta's visitor economy and provide meaningful opportunities to advance economic and cultural reconciliation."
The partnership agreement with ITA immediately follows the unveiling of WestJet's 787 Dreamliner summer schedule (link) out of Calgary, which includes direct, non-stop service to Tokyo, Japan and a broad expansion of the airline's European service, with new direct routes to and from Scotland and Spain. As Alberta grows its international presence, the airline and ITA are committed to sourcing employment opportunities for indigenous Canadians to accommodate for increased inbound tourism.
"Our expansive international network out of Calgary will provide ample opportunity to showcase a diverse array of Alberta-based Indigenous travel and tourism businesses. Indigenous tourism is an integral sector of Alberta's economy that uniquely positions our province as a world-class tourism destination for international visitors," continued Avery.
"Today's agreement with WestJet is an opportunity to further work together to ensure that WestJet travellers and team members are not only made aware of the different Indigenous cultures found across Alberta, but are also celebrating them," says Shae Bird, Chief Executive Officer of Indigenous Tourism Alberta.
"Over the last several years, WestJet has shown tremendous support of the Canadian Indigenous tourism industry and we hope that other airlines follow their example in creating these partnerships to further grow the industry together."