Caroline Wawzonek: Tourism Supports Across the Northwest Territories

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Blog Entries

Yellowknife — March 1, 2022

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Mr. Speaker, today is the day that the Northwest Territories tourism sector has been anticipating for nearly two years. I am so happy to finally say that as of today, the NWT is welcoming back friends and visitors from near and far.

We all know that the NWT is a growing destination of choice for travelers from across Canada and around the world. In fact, in the year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the territory had a record 120 thousand visitors, contributing more than $210 million to its economy.

Mr. Speaker, the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 have been unprecedented, but so has the support provided by this government to ensure that this pandemic will not overpower our tourism industry.

Three million dollars was invested in tourism initiatives across the territory under the Growth and Recovery by Investing in Tourism fund.

Additionally, two key support programs were introduced to help NWT businesses cover their costs, maintain staff and keep infrastructure and investments intact: the Pandemic Relief Extension Program for tourism operators, and the Supplement for Tourism Accommodation Relief Program for accommodation providers.

We have waived tourism insurance requirements and licensing fees, Further, we partnered with organizations including Northwest Territories Tourism and the Chambers of Commerce to encourage NWT residents to shop local and enjoy staycations within the territory. 

We also worked with NWT Tourism and the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer on the requests of qualified lodge owners to operate in summer 2021 under special conditions.

As well, we invested heavily in making our parks COVID-19 friendly for the extraordinary local use that we experienced from NWT residents and their families.

In total, we have injected more than $17 million into the tourism and parks sector since March 2020, and we continue to support local suppliers, contractors, and employees as we improve our tourism product for the future. 

As we prepare to celebrate the much-anticipated return of leisure travelers to our territory, our government will maintain its long-standing commitment to tourism.

We recently closed applications for the second intake of our Tourism Restart Investment Program, with funding of $2 million, which will aid tourism operators in ramping up their workforce skill development and marketing to Canadian travelers.

In addition to supporting tourism operators and tourism-related businesses, the GNWT is also supporting NWT residents with the development of a Resident Readiness Strategy. This strategy includes actions to help NWT residents welcome visitors and act as ambassadors in sharing their cultures and their way of life with people from around the world.

Meanwhile, Mr. Speaker, the Tourism 2025 Strategy is in place and charts a path for the industry going forward. 

Before the pandemic, we had committed to work with Indigenous and community governments to increase tourism and develop local tourism capacity and infrastructure. This remains a primary action of the Tourism 2025 Strategy.

Mr. Speaker, behind our territories’ world-renowned tourism product, exists a community of dedicated and resilient individuals; many of whom have made it their lifework and passion to present and represent our land and its people to the world. One of these critical partners is Northwest Territories Tourism, who has tirelessly advocated and represented their membership throughout the past two years. They have carefully and consistently continued to strategically market the NWT both domestically and internationally, positioning the territory as a spectacular destination.

Mr. Speaker, later today I will be tabling the Northwest Territories Tourism 2022-2023 Marketing Plan.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.