Tourism Business Mentorship Program

This program is accepting applications until May 31, 2021.

New for 2021: Virtual Tourism Business Mentorships

For 2021-22, the Tourism Business Mentorship Program is being offered virtually.

Mentorships will be delivered through the Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO) and its network of executive-level volunteers with decades of specialized business knowledge in a wide range of business-related disciplines. 

Each mentee will receive 49 hours of mentorship on a schedule developed to suit their availability.

The CESO advisor and mentee will work together using virtual tools and platforms, such as:

Communication Tools

  • Zoom
  • Skype
  • Google Meet
  • WhatsApp
  • Facetime
  • Phone

Email File Sharing platforms

  • DropBox
  • WeTransfer
  • Google Drive

Project Collaboration tools

  • Trello
  • Asana

What is the Tourism Business Mentorship Program?

The Tourism Business Mentorship Program provides opportunities and resources for interested NWT tourism operators (Mentees) to learn and benefit from experienced operators (Mentors).

Learning from a Mentor can be an important element in a tourism operator’s success. Mentors share their expertise and knowledge and provide support and encouragement to help entrepreneurs remain focused on what is important for the success of their business. Through the Tourism Business Mentorship Program, tourism operators who are less experienced can gain valuable skills in business, leadership and networking to

help maximize their potential and become successful and profitable independent tourism operators.

The mentoring process may involve the Mentor visiting the Mentee’s place of business, the Mentee visiting the Mentor’s place of business, and/or the Mentor providing online support.

Program Goals

The goals of the program are to:

  • provide the resources necessary to strengthen the tourism industry by developing skills and increasing business knowledge of tourism operators;
  • provide opportunities for NWT tourism business operators to learn and benefit from more experienced tourism operators/professionals;
  • enhance the strength of the tourism industry over the long term by providing resources and opportunities for NWT tourism businesses to learn from experienced professionals; and
  • facilitate knowledge transfer from more experienced professionals to new/younger entrepreneurs.

Tourism Business Definition

For the purpose of this program, the definition of a tourism business is a business that relies on travellers for a significant portion of their income. Examples of tourism businesses are those that provide hotels, restaurants, entertainment, services etc. for people who are travelling.

For the purpose of this fund, the aviation industry is excluded from this definition of tourism.

Program Administration

Government of the Northwest Territories, Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI)

ITI provides employment support and training to foster positive economic growth across the Northwest Territories (NWT). Regional Tourism Officers (RTOs) are employees of the Department and are available to discuss project proposals, help complete your application and to accept your completed application forms.

ITI staff also comprise the Mentorship Committee and are responsible for the selection of mentees. ITI staff are involved in both Stream 1 and Stream 2 of the Mentorship Program, in varying capacities.

Canadian Executive Services Organization (CESO)

CESO is a leading economic development organization dedicated to fostering economic growth in Canada and globally. CESO has nearly 50 years of business mentorship experience, with over 50,000 assignments successfully delivered in 122 countries worldwide.

CESO works with ITI for Stream 1 of the Mentorship Program and matches Mentees with suitable Mentors. CESO administers the overall Mentorship process and provides expertise and guidance on the Mentorship Program.

Program Structure

Stream 1

Individual Operators

Stream 1 is a partnership initiative between ITI and CESO. Under this stream, ITI and CESO review applications against a specific set of criteria to select individual operators (Mentees) to take part in the program and be matched with a suitable Mentor.

Stream 2 (Not being offered in 2021)

Best Practices Observation Program for Groups

Stream 2 is for groups of tourism operators or community tourism project managers who are interested in observing and learning about tourism operation best practices at identified tourism businesses. Under this stream, RTOs will select eligible groups to visit and learn about tourism operations management best practices at tourism operations recognized for their excellence. Selection is made through a proposal submission process.

Eligibility Criteria


Stream 1

Criteria for individual tourism operators (Mentees) to apply to the program:

  • Must be a resident of the NWT
  • Must have a valid Tourism Operator License or be a business, collective or organization that is engaged in the NWT tourism sector
  • Must be legally entitled to be a business in the NWT
  • Must have a business plan

Stream 2 (Not being offered in 2021)

Criteria for group tourism operators (Mentees) to apply to the program:

  • Must be resident in the NWT
  • Must have a valid Tourism Operator License or be a business, collective or organization that is engaged in the tourism sector


Stream 1

CESO sets Mentor criteria and standards and selects business Mentors.

Stream 2 (Not being offered in 2021)

ITI develops criteria to identify specific tourism operations that have been recognized for their excellence in tourism operations management. Applicants to the Group Stream can also propose tourism operations that they feel they would benefit from visiting and learning from.

Program Priority Areas

The Tourism Business Mentorship Program provides Mentors to assist in the following priority areas:

Stream 1

  • Strategic Planning e.g. New tactics and strategies for Service Quality improvements.
  • Crisis Management
  • Accessing and applying for grants
  • Pandemic Planning, Resumption Planning, etc.
  • Business Planning
  • Policy development e.g. health and safety policies
  • Product development and product diversification
  • Financial Management/ Accounting and Audit e.g. financing issues and strategies for remote communities.
  • Review of potential sources of capital.

  • Operations Management
  • Market Assessment and Development
  • Parks Management
  • Destination Marketing e.g. Destination Management for remote or isolated communities.
  • E-Commerce
  • Digital Marketing e.g. Free (Earned) Media, Social-Media Influencers.
  • Website Development
  • Communication Management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Project Planning and Management

Stream 2 (not being offered in 2021)

Mentees who are proposing a tourism operation to act as a Mentor should be able to demonstrate how that Mentor excels in at least three, but ideally all, of the priority areas noted above.

For full details, or to apply, please see the documents below or contact your ITI regional office.