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Valerie Gamache of the NWT economic development council serves up a marketing study directed at Quebec tourists during a press conference held last week in Yellowknife. Bill Kellett, left, and David Connelly leaf through their copies.

Quebec tourists welcome here

Andrea Markey
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (July 11/05) - Quebec tourists are under the microscope as marketing specialists try to determine what might lure more of them to the NWT.

The NWT economic development council has developed a three-year marketing plan that will try to more than double the number of Quebec tourists. Current data suggests that 450 tourists from that province visit the NWT every year.

"We know the number 450 is conservative because it is only based on licence plates from ferry counts and we know many Quebec travellers fly to Alberta and rent a car or fly directly into Yellowknife," said Sylvie Francoeur, director of communications and tourism with the council. "Right now, those are the only exit surveys we have to go on."

The council is working with NWT Tourism and tour operators to develop marketing strategies, beginning in four main areas: Nahanni National Park and the Deh Cho region; the Dempster highway and Inuvik; Wood Buffalo National Park and the South Slave region; and Yellowknife and the North Slave region.

"No one should work alone in the tourism industry," she said.

"We all need to work together to make the NWT better known to a wider audience."

The council is working with tourism operators to translate brochures, link existing tour operators and help publicize them in eastern Canada. To date, half of the $61,000 needed to implement the first year of the action plan has been secured from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. With current resources, work will begin this summer on developing a French NWT brochure and a French website and deciding on a "brand" through focus groups in Quebec.

"Baguettes and berets symbolize France - we need something that says NWT to the Quebec market," she said.

The remaining half of the funding would be used to attend industry conferences, conduct visitor surveys and further build the French website, she said.

Increase traffic

Over the winter, Dan Wettlaufer worked with the council to translate his brochures and website into French and develop videos for trade shows for Reliance Airways, as well as Lynx Tundra Lodge and Andrew Lake Lodge.

Based out of Fort Smith, Wettlaufer is the president of Reliance and an outfitter for the lodges.

"Quebec is a unique tourism market, heavily involved in adventure vacations, that has largely been overlooked before," he said.

"Our goal is to link with other operators to increase traffic in our area."

If people come up for a specific activity one year, they will often come back for other trips later, he said. "If we get the word out and make contacts this year, next year we will start to see the bookings," he said.