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First tourism strategy for Nunavut
Four pillars align organization's efforts to develop industry

Lyndsay Herman
Northern News Services
Published Monday, May 27, 2013

The Government of Nunavut has created a master plan for making the most of its tourism market, which it tabled in the legislative assembly on May 16 in the form of the territory's first-ever tourism strategy.

NNSL photo/graphic

Ernie Eetak performs a drum dance as cultural performer Elizabeth Nibgoarsi looks on during an Arviat Community Ecotourism initiative test run in January 2011. - photo courtesy of Mike Robbins

Four pillars of Five-year
Nunavut Tourism plan

  1. Legislation and regulation renewal, such as the development of a Nunavut-specific tourism act, will set the governance structure for the industry.
  2. Partnerships are critical to implementing the strategy to achieve its goals.
  3. Growth and development of attractions, products, and services, led by strategy framework, will improve the quality and quantity of available tourism goods.
  4. Education and training are essential to developing the capacity of tourism operators and communities.

Source: Nunavut Tourism

The five-year strategy, called Tunngasaiji: A Tourism Strategy for Nunavummiut, is the product of work done by six organizations including the Department of Economic Development and Transportation, Nunavut Parks, Parks Canada, CanNor, Nunavut Tourism and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., as well as other organizations in later stages of development.

In 2011, tourism-related businesses generated over $40 million in revenue and employed approximately 1,258 Nunavummiut.

"Tourism was the last sector that needed a strategy done for it and this is the first strategy done for tourism," said Colleen Dupuis, CEO of Nunavut Tourism.

"Everyone worked very hard together on this so this is very much a collaborative effort and it gives everyone a road map of where we hope to be going, and hope to be going as a territory and as a group; not just one organization versus another."

The strategy reinstates the Nunavut Tourism Task Force, which used to meet once per month, in order to keep the six primary organizations in close communication about progress of the strategy and tourism industry.

"It certainly makes it a lot easier to do things if everybody is pulling in the same direction," said Dupuis. "We're hoping that can lead to a stronger industry."

The first of the strategy's four pillars relates to legislative and regulatory renewal, including creating a tourism act specific to Nunavut.

This step is one Dupuis identified as one of the most important, as legislation and regulation is what the industry will be built upon.

"We have been using the NWT act that was grandfathered here in 1999 and there needs to be some changes to how things are being done and what some of the new things going on are," she said.

"One very small example: in 1999 there weren't a lot of private yachts coming north. There are now. There are more and more every year and that's not even in there anywhere because it wasn't on anyone's radar back then."

Trends relating to attractions and activities will be followed under pillar three and some trends have changed significantly since Nunavut's creation in 1999.

For example, while hunting used to be a primary attraction for both Nunavut and NWT visitors, interest is waning in favour of non-consumptive eco-tourism options, such as wildlife or landscape viewing. Operators and outfitters need to adapt to stay relevant in the changing market.

Here, education and training initiatives detailed in the strategy's fourth pillar will help.

The strategy also looks at trends identified by the 2011 Nunavut Visitor Exit Survey and other smaller scale information reporting systems.

These preliminary data sources identified business travellers, leisure travellers, cruise travellers (including those who arrive by private yacht), and travellers visiting friends and relatives as key markets for Nunavut's tourism industry.

"An exit survey for most jurisdictions is done every three to five years and that will continue but there is stuff in (the third pillar) and in the action plan on how research and other data will be collected on an ongoing basis, which hasn't always been the case," Dupuis said.

"That has been recognized and addressed."

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