In 2008, the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe jointly identified cultural tourism as an economic development priority, looking to create new employment and foster cultural pride. Akwesasne is a complex, multi-jurisdictional First Nation and Tribe, and pursuing cultural tourism came with many challenges. They had made major achievements on their own, but by the end of 2014 they had identified a need for outside help to help build a plan for how to best move forward.
MacLeod Farley & Associates was hired in 2015 to develop a five-year plan with clear, actionable steps. A wide group of stakeholders were involved, and they needed to reach a consensus on the plan. They also needed to raise the funds required to get the project off the ground.
We worked very closely with the Akwesasne Tourism Working Group and together generated a plan based on stakeholder input, an inventory and mapping of cultural tourism assets, tourism gap analysis, governance case studies, research into funding resource opportunities and joint planning. The resulting Akwesasne Tourism Strategic Action Plan identified clear steps, resourcing plans, timeframes and a solid approach for monitoring implementation and tracking progress. Then we were hired again by both communities to help prepare funding applications.
To date, we have helped secure over $4,200,000 for Akwesasne cultural tourism initiatives. This includes a USD$2 million approval over five years from ANA-SEEDS. As a result, the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe now has a three person tourism team, and has set up a Destination Marketing and Management Organization called Akwesasne Tourism, as well as a Cultural Tourism Business Incubator to support local tourism entrepreneurs. They are also offering package tours, generating income, and have formed partnerships with the Wild Center and others.