Indigenous Tourism Alberta members pivot businesses to find success in the wake of COVID-19

2020 presented challenges for many businesses across many industries and Indigenous tourism was no different. 

With the necessary travel restrictions put in place, many of our operators saw a decline in visitors and an associated decline in revenue. But with great challenges, also come great opportunities and many of our operators were able to seize this time to pivot their business and/or perform necessary upgrades to their infrastructure so they are ready to accept visitors when it’s safe to travel again.

Here are just a few of the operators that were able to pivot this year.

HideAway Adventure Ground

Hideaway Adventure Ground took this year to introduce brand new toilet facilities, a trading post, upgraded and new landscaping as well as a new group warming shelter. They are now more ready than ever to accept visitors for a private camp experience in the comfort of a Metis style trappers tent where you can explore 160-acres of aspen forest walking trails. 

Moonstone Creation

Located in the heart of Calgary, Moonstone Creation was one of the first businesses to start creating masks last spring, as well as introducing curbside pick up. The owners shifted their social media strategy to focus on their unique family story, which helped them gain more than 3000 new followers. Meanwhile, they also introduced online beading classes where materials are shipped directly to you and the class is facilitated on zoom. 

Pei Pei Chei Ow Indigenous Box

Edmonton’s, Pei Pei Chei Ow transitioned their business to homemade food package drop-offs that sold out instantly, starting with their Easter dinner last year. They were able to take advantage of stimulus funding to purchase a brand new camera system that allows them to facilitate virtual cooking classes with multiple camera angles. 

For the holiday season, Pei Pei Chei Ow created Indigenous food boxes that included items from Indigenous artists, tea makers and suppliers to create uniquely curated gift boxes. 

Bannock n Bed Inn

Located near Lesser Slave Lake, Bannock n Bed Inn has taken the opportunity to make many renovations to their BnB, while simultaneously rebranding and upgrading their website. The BnB now features a hot tub and also hosts small cohort beading classes in collaboration with Fine Indian Products.

Finally, Metis Crossing shifted their experiences to small, intimate groups with low contact. They developed their new deck space, archery program and prepared their new bison paddock while also breaking ground on a new 40-room boutique hotel. 

This past summer they continued to hire summer students and focus on staff development and the creation of new training programs while also starting the development of their renewable solar panels. 

Metis Crossing

The past year has truly shown the resiliency of our people and our province and highlighted the vital role Indigenous tourism plays in the diversification and growth of our provincial economy. Whenever it is safe to travel, operators are excited to welcome you back to experience their unique and beautiful Indigenous culture.