Eastside Aboriginal Sustainable Tourism Inc. is a new economic development initiative which has been established to support the development and expansion of new and existing Aboriginal Tourism businesses on the east side of Lake Winnipeg. It is a community-driven initiative, created and facilitated by people from the eastside. This provincially funded initiative is supported by the department of Culture Heritage & Tourism with technical support provided by the Manitoba Tourism Secretariat.
Located within Treaties 1, 3, & 5 (including adhesions), First Nations make up 97% of the total population on the eastside of Manitoba's biggest lake (Lake Winnipeg). Capitalizing on the beautiful scenery and untouched natural resources will allow the First Nations to enter the fastest growing industry - Eco-Tourism & Aboriginal Tourism.
Viable economic activities in Aboriginal Tourism for the eastside are endless:
- natural sandy beaches
- lakes & rivers
- forested areas
- Aboriginal culture
- arts and crafts
Current community-based tourism operators have expressed an interest in Aboriginal Tourism on the eastside of Lake Winnipeg. As a result, EAST Inc. was developed to help nurture this interest and to assist in expanding and enhancing tourism on the east side. Its purpose is to:
- Identify new opportunities
- Enhance and expand tourism on the eastside region of Manitoba
- Marketing of Aboriginal tourism to larger market
- Develop Ab. Tourism and other economic development activities
- Develop a regional tourism planning initiative for participating communities on the eastside (community input & consensus will be required).
With Aboriginal Tourism, communities will see benefits such as:
- increased awareness of cultural identity & uniqueness
- increased awareness of eco-tourism
- increased tourist person visits and revenue
- an increase in employment (tour guides, etc.) & training initiatives
EAST Inc. is made up of 6 volunteer board members who make up the executive committee. The current executive committee is made up of representatives from Berens River, Bloodvein, Brokenhead, Hollow Water, Little Black River, & Poplar River.
Regional Committee - consists of a minimum of two (2) representatives from participating communities, executive committee, & stakeholder advisory committee (reps from tourism industry, gov't & corporate sponsors).
Stakeholders / Membership - sponsors & tourism operators from the eastside communities.
- Increased tourist person visits and spending in the East Side region.
- Increased employment among East Side Aboriginal Residents, incl. youth
- Increased number of sustainable, locally-owned business enterprises operating in the East Side region
- Increased public and private sector investment in East Side business ventures
- Increased public and market awareness of tourism attractions and opportunities in the East Side region.
- Comprehensive inventory of community-based tourism assets
- Formalization of community action plans to promote local tourism
- Consensus-building and enhancement of community awareness and inter-community partnerships and collaboration
- Identification of training, product development and marketing gaps in this area, and formalization of an implementation plan that is designed to fill these gaps
- Initiate training and leadership skills development programs in tourism industry for young people.
- Opportunities, enhanced levels of product and program development, increased revenues, and renewed commitment to implement infrastructure and service improvement projects.
- With the increase in stable, indigenous, primary employment opportunities, East Side tourism development will be a vehicle for improvement of economic, social, and health issues that are a current reality.
- To build inter-community partnerships, support, confidence and consensus in a regional tourism strategy for the East Side.
To become a member, EAST Inc. requires a letter of support or a band council resolution identifying EAST Inc. as the link in the development of aboriginal tourism and other related sustainable economic development activities in the East Side Region of Manitoba.