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Tourism, Internet get boost from government

David Ryan
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Dec 11/06) - The owner of Iglulik's Tujurmivik Hotel insists Nunavut is a world-class destination that more people need to discover for themselves.

"People really enjoy their stay here and we would love to have more coming," said entrepreneur Elijah Evaluarjuuk.
NNSL Photo/graphic

Elijah Evaluarjuuk, owner of the Tujurmivik Hotel in Iglulik would like to see more invested in marketing Nunavut's rich culture to grow tourism. - NNSL file photo

He said the future depends largely on bringing more cruise ships to the territory.

One of the best ways to do that is by promoting the rich Inuit culture, he said.

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) agrees with the Inuk's assessment and plans to invest more than $2 million over the next three years, in part to help build the number of tourists coming to the territory.

Of that, Nunavut Tourism will receive about $1.1 million.

The Government of Nunavut will also get $249,000 to conduct visitor exit surveys.

"We feel it's consistent with what needs to be done and what our partners want done," said Michael Bloor, manager of economic development with INAC's regional office in Nunavut. The funding from the federal department is part of the strategic investments in a Northern economic development initiative, said Bloor.

The plan has earmarked $25.1 million for Nunavut between 2005-09.

Under the strategic investment initiative, INAC is collaborating with the territorial government and the Nunavut Economic Forum to identify opportunities for Nunavummiut, he said.

It all came as welcome news in Iglulik.

"Any money given to these organizations is good," said Evaluarjuuk.

He wasn't the only operator encouraged by the announcement.

Tourism funding is not always a top priority with the federal government, so "any type of funding is good funding," said Craig Thomas, of Bathurst Inlet Lodge.

With the extra money, Nunavut Tourism should listen to suggestions from its members on how to spend the windfall. Nunavut Tourism plans to focus on marketing and advertising within Canada and abroad, said marketing director Brian Webb.

The money will also be spent revamping its maps, website, publications and travel planners, he said.

"It's very positive for the industry as a whole," he added.

The other area to benefit from the announcement is the Nunavut Community Access Program, which will receive $655,000. It helps provide computer and Internet access to Nunavummiut and allows those interested to gain new skills, apply for jobs or start a business, said Darlene Thompson, spokesperson for the program.

"It is our goal to have a (Community Access Program) site in every community in Nunavut," she said.

Nunavut currently has 19 such sites in 15 communities.