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Marketing the product on the land

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Arviat ecotourism took another positive step forward with a unique trip out on the land earlier this month.

NNSL photo/graphic

Members of the familiarization group to head out on the land to witness the annual caribou migration near Arviat earlier this month were professionally guided by lead guide Jason Curley and Josee Gibbons, right. - photo courtesy of Mike Robbins

The Arviat Community Ecotourism (ACE) initiative hosted another successful familiarization trip for participants to witness the caribou migration back onto the Barrens.

The group was led by lead guide Jason Curley, with assistance from professional eco-guides Paul Pemik, Robert Karetak and Josee Gibbons.

Making the trip were Canadian photographer Michelle Valberg, Canadian videographer Pat McGowan, American public radio personality and photographer Mark Seth Lender and Thomas Lennartz of Arctic Kingdom, which was one of Arviat's first tour-operator partners.

Also on the trip were Arviat tourism co-ordinator Olivia Tagalik and ACE project manager Mike Robbins. The group spent three nights in a tented camp outfitted by Henik Lake Adventures while on the land.

Robbins said everyone was amazed and enthralled as the tundra came alive with caribou, foxes, wolves, geese, Sandhill Cranes and siksiks.

"Thankfully, no grizzly bears dropped by for a visit," said Robbins.

"Our group got some amazing photos and footage.

"McGowan stayed longer to try and film the big herd, which we didn't see during the main trip.

"All of the photo, video and sound materials gathered during the trip will be made available to ACE for marketing purposes."

Robbins said while it was unfortunate the group didn't see the migration's main herd, the trip was a huge success nevertheless.

He said a date has to be picked well in advance of an excursion, and everyone agreed they should have hit the main herd at that time.

"Unfortunately, the caribou just hadn't made it that far when we were out there.

"They were still more than 100 miles away from Arviat and we were only able to go about 50 or 60 miles.

"With future tour groups for caribou, we'll charter a plane and have the guides set up the camp close to the herd, even if we have to go 200 miles from the community.

"It will only take the guides a couple of days to get there, and the guests will fly to the camp from Arviat and then Ski-Doo the 30 minutes, or so, to the herd each day."

Robbins said the participants on the familiarization trip paid their own way to Arviat, as well as their hotel fees.

He said ACE paid the costs associated with the trip out on the land.

"A (familiarization) trip is to enable key media or tour operator people to experience the program, or get footage or photos that benefits ACE.

"In this case, we really wanted good photos, video footage and sound recordings of the migration back onto the tundra for promotional purposes.

"We now have five tour operators marketing and selling ACE programs with set departures for this summer.

"We have departures set for July to November with different tour operators, so, hopefully, each group (six to eight tourists) will be filled and coming into the community."

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