The federal Government of Canada has announced the investment of a minimum of $50M from the Tourism Relief Fund (TRF) in Indigenous tourism projects. The Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) is very pleased with this renewed commitment from the government to support the recovery of the Indigenous tourism industry across the country.

"The Government of Canada demonstrated their commitment to the importance of investing in Indigenous tourism in Canada,” said Keith Henry, president and CEO of the ITAC. “This is a very significant direct commitment for Indigenous tourism businesses, Indigenous Tourism Provincial/Territorial Partners and the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada. We are working out the two-year implementation details and will be moving quickly to support our Indigenous tourism industry recover and rebuild."

The aforementioned investment is part of a total commitment of $500M in the TRF to support the tourism industry overall, of which $485 million will be delivered by Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) directly to tourism businesses and organizations to help aid in the creation of new tourism experiences, or enhance existing ones. Of this $500 million, a minimum of 10% will be invested in Indigenous tourism projects ($50M). Additionally, $15M has been allocated in part to support national ITAC projects.

Individual businesses and Provincial/Territorial Indigenous Tourism Organizations will need to apply for repayable or non-repayable funding directly through their respective RDAs. Contributions to Indigenous entities (not generating profits) will normally be non-repayable. Indigenous applicants are invited to apply through the process described below.:

Though Canadian domestic travel restrictions have begun easing, this funding has come at a crucial time as international borders remain closed and operators have nearly lost their second full summer season of business. While many businesses received initial non-repayable grants through ITAC in fall 2020, without a further influx of funding to offset these compounded losses, and the fact that ITAC was only allocated $2.4M of the requested $68.3M in the 2021 federal budget – meaning they could not provide further financial support to their members – their viability to survive the third wave was uncertain. After months of advocacy efforts by ITAC to secure the future of their operators, experiences and community members, this financial commitment by the Government specifically for Indigenous tourism businesses is welcomed by ITAC and showcases their recognition of Indigenous tourism as a vital part of the economy and the culture of the country.


As part of a long-term partnership, the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) is excited to announce a new investment from Destination Canada of $2 million in funding and $950,000 of in-kind support, in an effort to stabilize the Indigenous tourism sector. 

The funding ensures ITAC can move forward with their new sales and marketing campaign, entitled The Original Original, promoting Indigenous tourism operators from coast to coast to coast and helping to rebuild the Indigenous tourism industry, which was disproportionately devastated by the pandemic.

“Research from Destination Canada shows that one in three Canadians are interested in Indigenous experiences,” says Keith Henry, President and CEO of ITAC. “Destination Canada’s support at this time has allowed us protection from insolvency and will give Indigenous tourism experiences the chance to remain competitive as tourism rebounds. This partnership is invaluable to the entire Indigenous tourism industry and we are extremely grateful for Destination Canada’s support, recognizing the value of Indigenous tourism to this country. ITAC will continue advocating for additional support in order to ensure the survival of the Indigenous tourism industry and is hopeful other partners will support and recognize the value of Indigenous tourism as well.”

“True reconciliation involves supporting Indigenous communities and businesses. The dedication and efforts of ITAC, backed by the long-standing partnership with Destination Canada and by this renewed support, are an important part of helping Indigenous peoples, communities and businesses build back better,” says the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages.

“To know Canada, we must understand the contributions of Indigenous peoples to our past, present and future,” says Marsha Walden, President and CEO of Destination Canada. “As a step towards reconciliation, we can all commit to learning about Indigenous culture and history. Tourism can be a gateway for this shared learning and we are delighted to be expanding our work with ITAC to support the recovery of Indigenous tourism businesses. I encourage all Canadians to add an Indigenous tourism experience to their vacation plans.”

Fully supported by this funding, ITAC launched its summer marketing campaign, The Original Original, on June 21, 2021, National Indigenous Peoples Day. The campaign aims to educate travellers, modernize their perception of Indigenous experiences and rebuild the Indigenous tourism industry. A key component of The Original Original is a new brand mark to help travellers better identify and book experiences from Indigenous-owned tourism businesses across Canada.

“With recent news surrounding Indigenous communities across Canada, it’s more important than ever to elevate Indigenous voices and ensure Indigenous community members are given the opportunity to share their stories and reclaim their culture,” says Henry. “Indigenous tourism and The Original Original Mark provides an opportunity for Canadians to learn more about Indigenous culture, history, customs, food and way of life in an authentic way, directly from Indigenous Peoples.“

Prior to March 2020, Indigenous tourism was outpacing all other tourism sectors in Canada for growth, bringing an estimated $1.9 billion in revenue to Canada’s gross domestic product. At that time, there were an estimated 40,000 Indigenous tourism employees and 1,800 Indigenous-led businesses. Today there are an estimated 15,000 employees and 1,000 businesses left. 

Since 2015, Destination Canada and ITAC have exchanged knowledge, expertise and market intelligence as well as facilitated, educated and consulted together on product readiness. Destination Canada has also assisted ITAC in connecting travel trade to export-ready products through available programs, while cooperating in marketing programs in countries of mutual interest. The organizations plan to continue to build upon their work and collaboration into the future.


SIHOT, one of the leading modular hotel management software systems, has launched SIHOT.KIOSK to provide guests with a seamless, fully digitalised check-in experience while automating hotel operations.

The new check-in terminal provides hotels with a secure and efficient check-in point for guests, designed to bring greater efficiencies while capturing all essential guest information. The SIHOT.KIOSK software, connected to SIHOT’s Property Management System, is accompanied by the Stellar TK-2130, a modular kiosk system that can be customised to the hotel’s brand and lobby interior.

Guests can use their booking confirmation details including reservation number, GDS or QR codes to complete the data requirements for check-in registration and confirm the hotel’s terms and conditions. SIHOT.KIOSK also features an AdriaScan ID reader for the immediate, automatic transfer of text-data from personal IDs and passports into the hotel management system. On completion of the registration process, the terminal generates a room key card for the guest. 

Hotels can also earn ancillary revenue by offering upgrade options, presenting the guest with room details including images and descriptions in various categories, while integrating other services, like breakfast or hotel transportation. 

Carsten Wernet, Executive Board Member at SIHOT, said: “Guests are more digital savvy than ever before, and hotels need to ensure data is compliant and accessible. We’ve developed the kiosk system and terminal so hotels can tailor the check-in experience to each specific property to provide a full brand experience. We are continuously evolving our platforms to bring greater efficiencies to hotel operations so staff can focus on serving their guests rather than fulfilling processes. Hotels can benefit from our wide range of integrations to connect applications to elevate the guest experience.” 

SIHOT.KIOSK is designed for easy and quick servicing and maintenance, and features a touch-screen monitor fitted with an antibacterial nano-coating with bacteriostatic and sterilising components to maintain hygiene and cleanliness.

The terminal has also been built to handle the check out process, taking prepayment by credit or debit card, automatically booked and billed via SIHOT.KIOSK with the guest receiving an invoice to their nominated email address. The kiosk system was specially developed by SIHOT for self-service applications with additional integration options to connect peripheral devices for hotel operations.


Jesta Group unveils Place Gare Viger, a mixed-used urban campus of over one million square feet in the heart of Old Montréal. The Montréal-based, family-owned developer has been meticulously planning this project with a vision to create the most progressive mixed-use development in the city. This ambitious project will be transformational for the
neighbourhood with a Hyatt Centric hotel, state of the art office space with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada coming on board, cutting-edge rental apartments, and vibrant retail, all surrounding an immense 36,000 square foot pedestrian courtyard that is anchored by the iconic Château Viger.

PLACE GARE VIGER – Blending history with tomorrow’s needs Jesta Group acquired Gare Viger in 2012 and has been working closely with government authorities, local stakeholders and industry leading specialists to create an architectural landmark that celebrates the rich history of the site and promotes its future as a hub for innovation and creativity.

Place Gare Viger is being built for the post pandemic world with a focus on health, access to nature and strength of community. From indoor air quality to touchless entries, a huge central courtyard with abundant vegetation and enhanced amenities for both work from home residents and office tenants, the project has been designed to deliver an experience unlike any other in an urban environment.

NOVARTIS Pharmaceuticals Canada – Canadian headquarters to be relocated to Place Gare Viger

In a strategic move to create a future-ready hybrid work environment and attract and retain great talent, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada has signed a ten-year lease in the new office tower at Place Gare Viger. “We are very excited to build the next chapter of our growth in Canada in this progressive mixed-use project at the heart of Old Montréal,” says Christian Macher, President, Novartis, Canada. “This location will position us closer to our partners, potential collaborators of all kinds, as well as new talent in a space that will be conducive to entrepreneurial thinking, inspiring innovation and co-creating solutions-oriented ideas with patients and customers in mind.”

LIGHTSPEED – Doubling office space in the Château

Renowned Montréal-based commerce platform Lightspeed is doubling its office space in the Gare Viger Château, and officially becomes its anchor tenant. In 2015, the vibrant technology company established its global headquarters at Place Gare Viger and has grown significantly to fill six floors of the Château with office space that has won numerous global design and architecture awards.

HYATT - The first Hyatt Centric hotel in Canada

Underpinned by confidence in Montréal’s economic recovery and the city’s reputation as one of the most celebrated cultural destinations in the world, Jesta Group plans to open Hyatt Centric Montréal, which is set to be the first Hyatt Centric hotel to open in Canada.

“We are very pleased to announce the first Hyatt Centric hotel in Canada in this iconic development in the heart of Old Montréal,” said Scott Richer, Hyatt’s vice president of development, Canada. “The Hyatt Centric brand is perfectly aligned with the forward-thinking vision of Place Gare Viger.”

The hotel will include 177 guest rooms, 4,500 sq.ft of banquet space, a rooftop pool & bar with unobstructed 360° views and a destination restaurant that will be run by a pillar from the local restaurant industry, the Burgundy Lion Group.

“Our vision at Jesta Group has always been to create a fully integrated urban campus for the future of work, live and play. We are ecstatic that our vision has resonated so strongly with the business community. We look forward to welcoming Novartis, supporting Lightspeed’s continued growth and delivering an exceptional hotel experience with Hyatt at Place Gare Viger,” says Anthony O’Brien, Jesta Group's Senior Managing Director.

    • Total value of world’s top 50 most valuable hotel brands has declined by 33% (US$22.8 billion) as sector negotiates fallout from COVID-19 pandemic
    • Hilton retains title of world’s most valuable hotel brand, despite recording 30% brand value decrease to US$7.6 billion
    • Hyatt is fastest growing brand in top 10 and one of only two brands to record brand value growth in top 50, up 4%
    • New entrant Taj is sector’s strongest, with AAA strength rating
    • Leisure & tourism brands also take hit, cumulative brand value down 40%

    As holidays are cancelled and people are instructed to work from home, the hospitality sector has reached an almost complete standstill both from tourism, as well as corporate travel. As a result, the total value of the top 50 most valuable hotel brands has decreased 33% year-on-year, down from US$70.2 billion in 2020 to US$47.4 billion in 2021, according to the latest Brand Finance Hotels 50 2021 report.

    Savio D’Souza, Valuation Director, Brand Finance, commented:

    “The hotels sector has completely ground to a halt over the previous year, the repercussions of which are demonstrated by the sharp brand value declines for almost all of the top 50 most valuable hotel brands. The sector is a resilient one, however. As the world begins to open back up again, we are already witnessing a strong improvement in bookings and occupancy levels across the board, showcasing the strength of brands despite the turmoil of the last year.”

    Hilton retains top spot

    Hilton once again is the world’s most valuable hotel brands, despite recording a 30% drop in brand value to US$7.6 billion. While Hilton’s revenue has taken a significant hit since the outbreak of the pandemic, the brand is showing confidence in its growth strategy, announcing a further 17,400 rooms to its pipeline, bringing the total to over 400,000 new rooms planned – an uplift of 8% on the previous year. Hilton also boasts the most valuable hotel portfolio, with its seven brands that feature in the ranking reaching a total brand value of US$13.8 billion.

    Hilton’s rival, Marriott (down 60% to US$2.4 billion), has dropped down to 5th spot from 2nd, after losing more than half of its brand value. Last year, the brand’s worldwide revenue available per room was down 60% from 2019 and global occupancy was just 36% for the year.

    Hyatt checks into 2nd spot

    Bucking the sector trend as one of only two brands in the ranking to record brand value growth is Hyatt (up 4% to US$4.7 billion)Despite the pandemic impacting its performance greatly, Hyatt’s net rooms growth has been strong, opening 72 hotels and entering 27 new markets. Furthermore, the brand has continued to execute new signings to maintain its pipeline, which represent over 40% growth of existing hotel rooms in the future.

    Taj is sector’s strongest

    In addition to measuring overall brand value, Brand Finance also evaluates the relative strength of brands, based on factors such as marketing investment, customer familiarity, staff satisfaction, and corporate reputation. According to these criteria, Taj (brand value US$296 million) is the world’s strongest hotel brand, with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 89.3 out of 100 and a corresponding AAA brand strength rating.

    Renowned for its world-class customer service, the luxury hotel chain scores very well in our Global Brand Equity Monitor for consideration, familiarity, recommendation, and reputation especially across its home market of India.

    Taj’s successful implementation of its 5-year plan - which focuses on selling non-core assets, becoming less ownership driven and reducing dependence on the luxury space – followed by the speedy adoption of its new R.E.S.E.T 2020 strategy, which provides a transformative framework to help the brand overcome the challenge of the pandemic, has contributed to the brand’s re-entrance into the ranking for the first time since 2016 in 38th spot.

    Brand Finance Leisure & Tourism 10 2021

    Alongside analysing the world’s most valuable hotel brands, Brand Finance also ranks the top 10 most valuable brands in the wider leisure & tourism industry.This year, the total value of the world’s top 10 most valuable leisure & tourism brands has declined by 40%.

    Despite recording a 19% brand value loss to US$8.3 billion, it has overtaken Airbnb (down 67% to US$3.4 billion) and Group (down 38% to US$3.5 billion)to become the most valuable leisure & tourism brand in the world. The fastest falling brand this year, Airbnb, cut a quarter of its workforce last year, and was forced to scale back on new initiatives that it had in the pipeline, including luxury resorts and flights.

    Happy Valley (down 37% to US$1.2 billion)is the sector’s strongest brand, with a BSI score of 84.1 out of 100 and a corresponding AAA- brand strength rating.

    Three new entrants in ranking

    There are three new entrants into the ranking this year, AMC Theatres (brand value US$1.8 billion) in 7thPriceline (brand value US$1.5 billion) in 8th, and Shenzhen Overseas Chinese Town (brand value to US$1.3 billion) in 9th.

    The world’s largest cinema chain, AMC, has struggled as cinemas were shut amid global lockdowns. The brand will be hoping their fortunes will reverse as customers slowly start to return to the big screen and blockbusters that have been delayed are finally released. 

    The three new entrants have pushed out three cruise brands, which have dropped out the ranking this year: Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise, and Carnival Cruise Lines.


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