Travel industry veteran Darcie Guarderas wants to lend a helping hand to tourism firms that believe they need some pointers to be economically viable.
Guarderas and her Calgary-based colleague Jai Mukerji – who also has a long tourism industry tenure – have formed Tân’si Tourism Solutions, which will use insights Guarderas and Mukerji have gained over the years to guide struggling tourism businesses.
“I plan to gradually move into more of a mentoring, advising and consulting role for both tourism businesses, DMOs and PMOs,” Guarderas says. “In addition, there are many Indigenous and non-Indigenous territorial and provincial associations that provide valuable services to tourism businesses across Canada that occasionally need an external expert to look at business support strategies and how they can be made more user friendly.”
The word Tân’si is a friendly greeting in Cree.
But Guarderas is quick to add that she and Mukerji will be happy to assist all sectors of the travel industry.
“We work with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations in equal measure,” she says. “With personal family and friend connections with the Indigenous community and with long experience working with them, I feel I am able to relate to Indigenous tourism businesses and offer support. The feedback that I have received over the past several months is that these Indigenous business owners have found the mentorship to be useful. Indigenous cultural tourism is a fast-growing trend with growing appeal both to domestic and international visitors and the economic benefits of this trend are enormous. It is an area that I will continue to put a lot of my energy into.”
Tân’si Tourism Solutions will be participating in this month’s Rendezvous Canada, during which Indigenous tourism will be very prominent. Guarderas suggests Tansi’s arrival is timely, given the tough times tourism firms are having to cope with as the coronavirus pandemic lingers on. She adds that many Indigenous companies are finding things particularly challenging.
“All tourism businesses are in a difficult situation, not just Indigenous-owned businesses,” she notes. “But because so many of the Indigenous tourism businesses are in the early stages of their evolution, taking their early steps into financial maturity and health, the Covid situation has hit them particularly hard. With little financial reserves, and sometimes limited access to skilled human and business support resources on account of remote locations, they need all the support that the community and all levels of government can provide at this time.
“Tourism businesses are going through the most difficult phase on record. With air travel down 90% from pre Covid levels, record unemployment losses, business closures, this sector has been the hardest hit by the pandemic and will take years to recover. With 99% of businesses in Canada’s tourism sector being small- and medium-scale enterprises, a significant proportion of them Indigenous-owned, this sector will need both ongoing government support from the outside as well as people from within the industry holding each other’s hand and lifting ourselves collectively out of this situation.”
Tân’si is currently working with a wide variety of tourism organizations and businesses from the Prairies to the northern territories and expects to be working with organizations across Canada over the next few months
Meanwhile, Guarderas is confident that the expertise she and Mukerji have will be of use to many others in tourism.
“With several decades of experience in the travel industry in a number of positions, I just felt that I needed to use that knowledge and background to help others in the industry cope with the present challenges and come out of this difficult period with skills and tools that will help them thrive in the post-Covid travel reality,” she says. “Basically, we are down-to-earth people with practical skills offering real life solutions for the tourism industry and I feel that my personality is suited for the mentoring and training role.”
More information is available at tansisolutions.com.