SYILX TERRITORY (Kelowna, BC) – The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA), together with the Aboriginal Tourism Association of British Columbia (AtBC), is pleased to announce the addition of a Regional Aboriginal Tourism Specialist to the team.
Greg Hopf will be responsible for developing a cultural tourism strategy in alignment with TOTA’s Embracing Our Potential and AtBC’s The Next Phase plans. Embracing a rich history filled with traditional stories and beliefs, the endeavour is to develop economic opportunities and progress Aboriginal tourism business within the region.
Greg is from the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, born in Yellowknife, and raised in Fort Simpson. After attending the University of Augustana in Camrose, AB, Greg has had extensive experience implementing both sport and cultural programs at a community level. He has worked for Dene Nation, managed an Aboriginal-owned tourism company, worked as a cultural/community liaison for Diavik Diamond Mines, and has spent the last ten years at Aboriginal Sports Circle, most recently as their Executive Director.
Aboriginal tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in the BC tourism industry, with one in four visitors interested in adding an Aboriginal cultural experience to their trip. AtBC studies report the value of the provincial Aboriginal tourism industry grew from $20 million in 2006, to $42 million in 2012. With the development of a cultural action plan, they expect annual revenue to generate $68 million by 2017. By cultivating credible relationships with the 32 First Nations communities throughout the Interior, Greg looks to address consumer demand for Aboriginal tourism experiences, whilst maintaining respect and cultural authenticity that will exceed visitor expectations.
TOTA President and CEO Glenn Mandziuk is excited to welcome Greg to the team and to work with First Nations communities to create authentic, sustainable tourism products and experiences. “I’m extremely pleased to have Greg on board, and I look forward to establishing prosperous relationships and highlighting First Nations culture in the region.”
“We are pleased to welcome Greg as our Regional Aboriginal Tourism Specialist within the beautiful Thompson Okanagan region,” says Brenda Baptiste, Chair of Aboriginal Tourism BC. “Greg brings a wealth of experience to the role, combining his experience in both the cultural and tourism sectors.”
Alongside strategy implementation, Greg will be analyzing and addressing the strengths and weaknesses of Aboriginal tourism, planning Aboriginal cultural events in gateway locations, and acquiring unique stories for marketing ventures. Together with AtBC, TOTA is excited to share with you the journey as the past rejoins the future.