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Tourism fund gives $3 million boost to NWT’s struggling tourism industry

A fund set up to support the tourism industry will distribute $3 million to struggling tourism businesses throughout the territory.

Funded by the GNWT and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor), the GRIT fund was established in August 2020 specifically to tackle the challenges caused by COVID-19.

Over 90 individuals and companies will receive money to help them adapt and “position their operations for the future,” a statement from the Department Industry, Tourism and Investment. The average amount paid out by the fund is just over $30,000.

“Tourism is an essential part of the economy of the Northwest Territories, supporting communities and business operators,” Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for CanNor. “The sector has been hard hit by COVID-19 and continues to feel the effects.”

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The tourism industry has been decimated by COVID-19, especially in the Northwest Territories with travel restrictions and mandatory 14-day isolation periods discouraging travellers.

The territory has lost more than 4,000 jobs during the pandemic, mainly in the service sector, with tourism jobs being a large contributor to that, according to finance minister Caroline Wawzonek. 

During a 2020 budget review, Wawzonek added that jobs connected to international markets or health trends are unlikely to recover as quickly as others — tourism being the most notable example.

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