Chamber and WATA still not married
Groups weigh pros and cons en route to final decision

by Glenn Taylor
Northern News Services

INUVIK (Mar 07/97) - The Inuvik Chamber of Commerce and the Western Arctic Tourism Association executive voted to join forces last November, but it's far from certain whether any marriage will actually take place.

The proposal was first considered last October, when the boards formed a committee to review the merits of merger. The committee came back wholly in favor of the idea.

It seemed like the perfect marriage. Both groups have been in steep decline over the last few years, thanks to reduced funding and lack of support and interest from the communities they serve.

The chamber was in fact a dormant organization for months, after much of its executive resigned and no one stepped in to fill the gap. WATA has also seen anaemic support from tour operators, who often don't attend annual meetings or join in joint promotional activities.

A major reduction in funding from Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development has also hurt.

While the pros weigh heavy, the cons also have a certain gravity. The chamber carries a $5,000 debt, which WATA would presumably have to shoulder if the two boards merged. Some WATA members are also concerned that the chamber -- an Inuvik-focused body -- would take focus away from the regional tourism mandate it holds.

Chamber member Mary Beckett said she is preparing a survey to distribute to chamber members soon, to see whether they are in favor of merging the bodies into a new entity, known as the Beaufort Delta Board of Tourism and Trade.

WATA is also polling members to see whether they would support a merging of interests.

Meanwhile, the two groups are sharing office space and administration in town to cut down costs.

Beckett said the "go slow" approach is the best way to make sure all concerns are taken care of before the merger is complete. But the merger is still not complete.