Great Spirit Circle Trail Business Tourism conference to launch Biz Connect program

MANITOULIN—The ninth annual Great Spirit Circle (GSCT) Business Tourism Conference on April 2 is shaping up to be another substantive success, with more than 65 precent of the seats already filled.

“We are seeing a great turnout in registrations,” said GSCT marketing assistant Kyla Corbiere. Ms. Corbiere noted that the business tourism conference will showcase a number of important business tools for aboriginal tourism product producers and provide seminars on product development that will be extremely useful for budding First Nation tourism product entrepreneurs.

Foremost amongst those products is Biz Connect, an innovative approach to stimulate business development, promote aboriginal businesses and create partnerships for future developments.

“The morning session will be a ‘how to’ workshop on Biz Connect along with a panel of funding agencies such as Waubetek Business Sevices, FedNor, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, the Business Development Corporation, TD Canada Trust and the Bank of Montreal,” said Ms. Corbiere. “Kevin Eshkawkogan (GSCT CEO) will be presenting the ‘How To’ session. The presenters from the funding agencies will be explaining what it is each of their agencies and businesses do and what they have to offer the aboriginal tourism sector.”

The conference attendees will then be encouraged to register for Biz Connect. “Biz Connect is a micro version of the Aboriginal Business Match that has been so successful in British Columbia and Saskatchewan,” said Ms. Corbiere.

The second day of the conference will see businesses matched up with each other through the Biz Connect system for a 15 minute sit-down, face-to-face discussion at a business-to-business level. The object will be for each to discover opportunities to profit and develop their markets.

“I think anybody would benefit from knowing what products and services are being offered and provided,” said Ms. Corbiere.

One thing there will be less of at this conference will be vendors. The simple reason being that the people attending the conference would largely be many of the very people the conference is intended to benefit. “These are people we are hoping will take part,” she said.

Other topics being covered by the conference presenters are ‘Tourism Training Networks: Responding to Labour Trends; Operational Efficiency; and Grassroots Aboriginal Product Development; and Balancing Work, Life and Business.

The conference’s keynote speaker will be Bruce Poon of Tip of G Adventures who will speak on Tourism Development Sustainability and Standards. Mr. Poon is also the author of ‘Looptail: How one company changes the world by reinventing business.’ Each attendee will receive a free copy of Mr. Poon’s book. “The kind of products he talks about in application to aboriginal tourism ties in nicely with the types of tourism products offered by the GSCT,” said Ms. Corbiere.

The conference will also see the official launch of Aboriginal Tourism Ontario on Saturday morning. “Aboriginal Tourism is much more than just an economic opportunity,” said Ms. Corbiere. “It also has the potential to strengthen our First Nations communities while maintaining cultural authenticity, not to mention providing good jobs and opportunities.”

The Friday evening of the conference will feature a dinner by the Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre’s own Wampum Restaurant and topped off with a performance by the internationally renown Debajehmujig Storytellers Theatre Group.