Understanding the links between wellness and Indigenous tourism in western Canada

Critical sites of cultural exchange

Authored by: John S. Hull , Courtney W. Mason

The Routledge Handbook of Health Tourism

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138909830
eBook ISBN: 9781315693774
Adobe ISBN: 9781317437505


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This chapter offers an overview of how wellness and Indigenous tourism are related in western Canadian contexts. By examining the historical foundations and contemporary linkages between the industries, this chapter centres on why these two distinct economies have been developed in tandem. At the beginning of the twentieth century, tourism capital and expanding markets facilitated the reimagining of the Canadian Rockies as a ‘natural’ environment with particular appeal to affluent tourists with a desire to escape urban centres and to pursue the health benefits of spending time in the mountains. The tourism economies of the period jointly marketed wellness and health tourism with Indigenous cultural tourism. Banff, Alberta has a storied history of both wellness and Indigenous tourism. These tourism industries relied on a selective inclusion of local Indigenous peoples (Nakoda, Cree, Ktunaxa, Blackfoot and Secwepemc) even while they were increasingly refused access to the protected areas that were appropriated in the formation of Banff National Park. 1

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