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Royal visit leaves its mark
Tourism industry gets equivalent of $16-million in advertising

Katherine Hudson
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, September 14, 2011

From additional staff at a downtown coffee shop, to above-average international bookings at Blachford Lake Lodge to the more than $16 million worth of advertising value NWT Tourism monitored through media coverage, Yellowknife's royal visit in July definitely made an impact.

NNSL photo/graphic

Prince William and Catherine Middleton learn some signals from Bobby Drygeese at a dene hand game demonstration. - NNSL file photo

The territorial government expenses were in the range of $200,000, according to Shaun Dean, deputy secretary of corporate communications and protocol, covering the travel and accommodation of participants such as the youth parliamentarians and the Paulatuk Moonlight Drummers and Dancers.

"Setting up the stages down at Somba K'e and we were also responsible for the cost of the buses that ferried the media around and things like that," said Dean.

He said the cost of transporting and accommodating the royal couple and the royal entourage is being split among the provincial and territorial jurisdictions they visited and the federal government.

"There's a fairly complicated cost-sharing agreement between all the jurisdictions that participated in the royal tour and those figures haven't come in yet."

Julie Warnock, communications co-ordinator with NWT Tourism, the designated marketing organization for the NWT tourism industry, said the visit translated into $16 million in marketing through photos, video and background information showcasing the city and territory - and that was only in Canada and the United States.

"There was of course international coverage as well. We heard from our people in Germany that there was about 216 articles that appeared on the web and in print in Germany," said Warnock.

She said there was unrecorded coverage in the U.K. and Japan as well.

"For our target markets it was an amazing opportunity. Canada is also a target market for us and that domestic coverage was really important as well," said Warnock.

"In that lead-up and then for about three weeks afterwards we continued to pick up good coverage, $16 million just in that time frame. Well worth the investment that the GNWT put into that ... A part of it for us is just getting Yellowknife on the map and the NWT on the map so people have some clue as to where we are. It's always something that we put advertising dollars into every year so this was an amazing opportunity."

The GNWT budgeted $2.5 million for tourism marketing this year.

The interest spanned from print, television and radio to the Internet, with more than six times the regular online traffic to NWT Tourism's online explorers' guide, and an increase of 13,000 visits to the NWT Tourism website this July over last.

Mike Freeland, owner of Blachford Lake Lodge, said Prince William and Kate Middleton's visit to his lodge for an afternoon on July 5 has spurred a number of new bookings from around the world including the U.K., the United States, southern Canada, Hong Kong and Australia.

Freeland said the lodge is offering a new package titled Follow in the Footsteps of Royalty, with a price tag of an additional $225 per person to take part in interpretive walking tours, hear stories from staff about the royal visit and canoe to the Royal Honeymoon Island for the same six-course meal served to Prince William and Kate Middleton.

"There are quite a number who have mentioned the royals that said (they're) excited to come to a place that hosted the royals," said Freeland.

"I think it's certainly been good for Yellowknife, and even the NWT, just generally for tourism exposure and awareness. There's a lot of tourism destinations out there anywhere in the world but the Yellowknife visit and (the royals') wilderness time at Blachford has just helped the general appeal of the North."

Businesses downtown also saw an influx of customers during the three days the royal couple was in town.

Javaroma owner Fadil Memedi said he prepared for it with an additional staff member.

"Special events to bring people downtown really helps," he said.

Scott Wray, owner of the Black Knight Pub, said being so close to the official welcoming ceremony at Somba K'e Park affected the restaurant's business.

"We definitely saw an increase that week due to their visit," said Wray.

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