Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. The NRTA has made great strides in the last few years and, as a result, the industry is growing, the economy is benefitting, and the whole region is beginning to realize the significance of the Nahanni Ram Tourism Association. I would like to take this time to mention some important accomplishments.
For the first time, the board of directors of the Nahanni Ram Tourism Association is an all-native board. The NRTA has its first native outfitter, North Nahanni Naturalist Lodge, which is owned by Loyal and Rea Letcher. Development of tourism infrastructure by the communities reflects a new era of cooperation of community involvement. NRTA has started networking with other native organizations across Canada to integrate plans with proven and established resources.
The NRTA cooperative marketing initiative for the fiscal year 1994-95 is the highest in history, reflecting an increase in membership. NRTA's focus on cultural interactive tours reflects cultural enhancement as a viable product and marketing strategy. Mr. Speaker, this last point is a key point and the benefits are twofold; these traditional skills can be passed on to the younger generation and, at the same time, contribute to providing a product for this emerging industry in the Deh Cho region.
With even more initiatives in the works, Mr. Speaker, and a positive revenue-generating potential clearly identified, it does not make any sense to reduce core funding to this particular zone. In line with NRTA's directive, the federal government places tourism as a high priority item for increased funding. Mr. Speaker, in Prime Minister Jean Chretien's speech to the tourism industry association in Vancouver last October, he recognized the industry. Last year, the federal government committed $15 million to tourism promotion and realized its potential plans to increase tourism funding to $50 million this year.