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NWT featured in Japan

Andrea Markey
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (July 27/05) - A delegation of government, business, arts and cultural representatives from the territory are at Expo 2005 for NWT Week in Aichi, Japan.

Premier Joe Handley hosted a reception Monday evening and Aurora World Corp. will do the same today. Brendan Bell, Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment left Yellowknife Monday morning to join the delegation.

"Japanese tourists make up almost a quarter of all tourists to the territory," said Bell. "We hope to highlight what NWT has to offer, including an exhibit on Canadian diamonds and a fashion show of clothes from muskox hair, or qiviut."

The receptions will also feature artists and musicians from around the territory.

"When people visit, they often want to take something home with them so having the artists there (is great exposure for the North)," he said.

The NWT Week portion of Expo isn't open to the public. Instead, senior government officials, industry leaders and international media are invited to mingle with the territorial delegates.

Rather than a more traditional two-three month stint at Expo, the five days allow for a much more targeted attack, he said.

With a total cost of $800,000 for the five days, the return will be well worth the investment, he said. The GNWT contributed $500,000, while industry has combined to spend about $300,000.

In 1989, fewer than 100 Japanese tourists visited the NWT. By comparison, the government expects approximately 11,000 Japanese tourists to visit next season with each spending $747 on average.

"We are excited to work with industry when we get back to monitor and measure the success of the trip," he said.

Mary-Beryl Long is excited to meet many of the people she has worked with over the years. As general manager of Aurora World, the reception she is hosting today celebrates the company's 25 years of operation.

"We want to thank our Japanese operators and the Japanese media for supporting us," she said. "The reception will also showcase artists and musicians from the territory."

One of the long-term goals is to get the travel trade back to where it once was, she said. The industry is still down from the pre-Sept. 11, 2001 mark.

"This is a big opportunity for everyone in the territory," she said.