The Northwest Territories’ tourism industry has received a federal funding boost.
The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) is injecting $2.8 million into the sector over the next two years.
Leona Aglukkaq, minister of CanNor, made the announcement in Yellowknife on Monday.
The funds, to be combined with nearly $7.5 million from territorial partners, will be spent on two projects.
The first will support the implementation of a two-year strategy to sell the territory as an attractive tourist location in Asian, European and North American markets.
The second is designed to bolster the tourism industry in five communities with emerging tourism opportunities: Fort Resolution, Lutsel K’e, Fort Simpson, Deline and Tuktoyaktuk.
“Since 2009, we have invested more than $16 million in tourism-related projects across the North which have increased economic growth and created well-paying jobs for families,” said Aglukkaq.
“We have seen significant growth in this sector over the last few years.”
Tourism minister David Ramsay, who recently took part in a trade mission to China and Japan, says tourist figures have risen in the last three years.
“The number of tourists continues to grow every year. Tourism brings in around $130 million to the territory each year and employs 2,500 but, in global terms, the North’s tourism industry is still in its infancy. There is much work to do if we want to reach our full potential,” he said.
“Communities need the tools to develop and sustain tourism. The funding supports the development of a research program intended to gather baseline information against which we can measure the impact of our investments.”
Aglukkaq and Ramsay stressed the need to develop tourism strategies outside the capital city and surrounding regions.
One way to do that, Aglukkaq believes, is to promote authentic Aboriginal experiences and ecotourism.
“Ecotourism is a very attractive initiative that’s being explored globally and people want authentic experiences,” she said.
“The North has a lot to offer in that respect.”
Ramsay added: “The Northwest Territories is leading the way when it comes to developing Aboriginal tourism product
“The future of tourism in the territory is very promising. We have the attractions and we certainly have the potential.”