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Before the spread of COVID-19, tourism provided a promising approach to sustainable development—a way for Indigenous communities to generate income, alleviate poverty, increase access to healthcare and education, and to conserve their cultural and natural resources.

But the coronavirus has taken a terrible toll on Indigenous communities, underscoring the degree to which they continue to be marginalized, both economically and socially.

With little lack access to basic necessities— including water, medical supplies and healthcare services—many communities have had to lock down to outsiders, so that tourism, for now, is not an option.

But the virus won’t last forever, and as the world eventually starts to recover from this pandemic, tourists will again begin to explore new places, revisit those they know well, and seek inspiration in new connections—with people, in nature and with cultures.

How can communities plan for the future and use tourism—along with forestry, agriculture and arts and crafts—to generate income? How can they increase understanding and appreciation of their stories, traditions and challenges?

The Indigenous Tourism Forum of the Americas will bring together community, tourism and government leaders to discuss development needs and priorities, to generate dialog around tourism, and to empower Indigenous people so that collectively, they can amplify their voices in the cultural conversation and better determine their own fates and futures.

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