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Town seeks conferences
Drive to further develop tourism industry

Stewart Burnett
Northern News Services
Thursday, September 29, 2016

In hopes to fully develop another sustainable, viable industry, the town is looking to promote itself harder as a tourism and conference destination.

NNSL photo/graphic

Vicky Grégoire-Tremblay, economic development and tourism manager for the Town of Inuvik, is hoping to attract more conferences to the town. Each one can bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars to local businesses, she said. - Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

"When we attract a conference, it brings a lot to local businesses," said Vicky Grégoire-Tremblay, economic development and tourism manager for the Town of Inuvik.

"One conference can bring easily between $200,000 and $400,000 for the community, between hotels, restaurants, stores and boutiques. It's really good in terms of economic impact, but we haven't pushed that as much as we should."

That's one of her main projects now, and she says Inuvik has a number of opportunities.

The town has regularly hosted the Arctic Energy and Emerging Technologies Conference and Tradeshow, previously known as the Inuvik Petroleum Show, and Grégoire-Tremblay is hoping to attract conferences with a broader range of themes.

Those themes might include Inuvik's position as a satellite destination, ones to do with climate change or perhaps ones based on aboriginal issues.

One of the advantages Inuvik has over other Northern destinations, such as Alaska, is Canada's low dollar right now.

"Because of the exchange rate, it's cheaper to go to Inuvik," said Grégoire-Tremblay. "If you're planning on holding a conference in the North, then Inuvik can be cheaper than holding a conference in Alaska, depending on where exactly."

Plus, Inuvik is host to a range of excursion opportunities, such as visiting the Arctic Ocean, which are often popular before and after conferences with delegates.

"We're trying to market Inuvik as accessible in that sense," said Grégoire-Tremblay.

Previous investments in tourism seem to already be paying off, if judged by the number of visitors Inuvik had this past summer.

Grégoire-Tremblay didn't have the exact numbers off the top of her head, but each month this past summer saw growth in visitors from the same time last year, once even surpassing 30 per cent greater.

"Those are pretty good numbers," said Mayor Jim McDonald, who also referenced the statistic.

"I haven't seen a lot of data but just from what I've seen with the people in town this summer, there certainly was an increase. We saw a lot of people on motorbikes, motorhomes, pedalling in just on bikes. It certainly appeared to be a lot more people coming."

Tourism investments can take some time to pay off and can work in indirect ways, added Grégoire-Tremblay.

For example, the town is looking to promote the last year of the ice road to Tuktoyaktuk heavily this season. People might not make the trip up just to drive on that road during winter, but it's about brand exposure and getting people interested in the destination, said Grégoire-Tremblay.

McDonald says the town is working hard on its tourism sector.

"It's viable and it's sustainable if you can work to promote it and develop it," he said.

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