Six Nations Tourism is celebrating Tourism Week from May 24 through May 30, 2020. This week is recognized for the economic opportunity the industry brings through travel, visits to our community, and support of local businesses and organizations. Recognition of Tourism Week in 2020 will differ greatly from prior years, however. Across Canada, the tourism industry has been the hardest hit through the COVID-19 pandemic. And, in particular First Nations throughout the country which have determined their own community initiatives for controlling the spread of the coronavirus have the unenviable task of supporting businesses in this sector which, without online services, have had no access to added markets. The Six Nations community has many such entities and organizations.

Celebrating Tourism Week in the Six Nations CommunityPhoto Credit: Six Nations Tourism

To make a recovery from the effects of the pandemic on our sector, we first need to understand the contributions to our community that tourism businesses make to our local economy. At present, there are 1,875 First Nation businesses across Canada operating in the tourism sector, employing over 39K people. Statistics from 2017 indicate that their direct economic impact to the gross domestic product (GDP) was more than $1.7 billion. Our communities cannot afford to lose the employment and opportunities for growth that the tourism sector has offered us.

What Does Tourism Mean to Six Nations?

Celebrating Tourism Week in the Six Nations CommunityPhoto Credit: Six Nations Tourism

Tourism in the community of Six Nations supports sport, culture, and heritage. This includes our arenas and ball diamonds, our local lacrosse and baseball teams and tournaments, dirt track racing, sporting goods outfitters, museums, the annual pow wow, and our heritage sites. Likewise, events that showcase our musicians and artists, leisure activities such as canoeing and kayaking, craft and gift shopping, and hospitality businesses such as accommodations and restaurants have all benefitted from an inflow of community visitors and guests.

What Can We Do to Support Local Businesses?

Celebrating Tourism Week in the Six Nations CommunityPhoto Credit: Spring Sault

In support of local Six Nations businesses (of which there are over 100 which employ many Band Members,) Six Nations Tourism has developed social media posts, blog features, website coverage, and more, providing free visibility and marketing on their behalf. The goal has always been to support local businesses, however, over the course of the pandemic and the changes that our community has undergone, we are additionally making every effort to feature those which have been able to continue their business and services in our community under such economic strains. We realize that not everyone can afford to shop and eat out at present. However, there are other ways to support Six Nations businesses and organizations even when spending money isn’t an option:

  • Follow them on social media, like, and share their posts, and help to inform others about their products and services.
  • Tag a Six Nations business in one of your own social media posts.
  • Write a positive review of a Six Nations business or organization on Facebook or in Google.

Celebrating Tourism Week in the Six Nations CommunityPhoto Credit: Six Nations Tourism

SMEs (small-to-medium sized enterprises) make up a large share of our local economy. Local proprietors tend to keep more of their profits within the community, spending it at other similarly supportive businesses in their industry. Therefore, shopping locally on Six Nations results in a much stronger community economy, which benefits everyone. This, in turn, leads to greater access to jobs and opportunities, and more income for such things as our parks and recreation as well as health and education. Follow Six Nations Tourism on Facebook at the link available here, as well as on our Instagram and Twitter accounts this week and in the weeks to come to learn more about the tourism industry in our community and how it relates to our local economy and organizations.

Quick Stats:

Celebrating Tourism Week in the Six Nations CommunityPhoto Credit: Spring Sault

The tourism industry is the largest single sector employer of youth, aged 15-24. In 2019, Six Nations Tourism worked with Grand River Employment & Training as well as Canada Summer Jobs to employ summer students at both Mohawk Chapel and Chiefswood National Historic Site, as well as at Chiefswood Park, and the Gathering Place. Similarly, Six Nations businesses and organizations posted for and employed a vast majority of our community’s youth, generating continued economic opportunity and growth and inspiring a new generation of workers and future business operators.

In 2019, Six Nations welcomed approximately 47,000 visitors to our community to explore all we have to offer, attend sports and cultural events, and visit area attractions. And, these are simply those who stopped at the visitor centre, visited Chiefswood Park, went to Gathering Place by the Grand, and toured Chiefswood National Historic Site and Mohawk Chapel. The direct, indirect, and induced economic impact this has on the community is necessary for our continued growth, employment, and future sustainability.

In Ontario specifically, during the most recent study by the Conference Board of Canada, the tourism industry and its network of spinoff or supporting businesses accounted for more than $380 million in labour income and earnings of more than $1.3 million.

Celebrating Tourism Week in the Six Nations CommunityPhoto Credit: Six Nations Tourism

Six Nations Tourism looks forward to continuing to support community businesses and organizations through marketing initiatives and encouraging everyone to shop local when and where possible. And, when the time is right, we welcome visitors to once again experience and enjoy everything that the Six Nations community has to offer. Stay safe and stay well.

Written by Spring Sault