Selling the Keewatin
Promoting region a key to tourism success

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

RANKIN INLET (Feb 10/99) - A willingness to develop programs beneficial to both Kivalliq's tourism outfitter operators and receptive tour operators in Manitoba highlighted tourism talks during the Kivalliq Trade Mission visit to Manitoba, says Dyan Gray, regional tourism development co-ordinator for Kivalliq.

"I was pleasantly surprised with how the trade mission went and found it pretty successful," said Gray.

Kivalliq Trade Mission Highlights

* Several Manitoba businesses have discussed opportunities to undertake investments and partnerships in a number of Kivalliq communities, including Arctic Beverages of Flin Flon, the Canadian College of Taxidermy of McCreary, the Winnipeg Fur Exchange and Acklands-Grainger, an industrial supplier to the heavy construction and mining industries.

* To help further Northern economic development, the Food Development Centre in Portage la Prairie will send staff to the communities of Rankin Inlet and Coral Harbour in the next few weeks to discuss a food feasibility study for processing Northern foods such as caribou, scallops and kelp.

* A number of opportunities for youth will be pursued, including a Northern Junior Achievement project and bringing a team of Northern youth to Rural Forum 99.

* A number of opportunities have been identified to improve the information flow between Manitoba and the Kivalliq Region, including exchanging telephone directories and looking at developing a joint Web site and newsletter.

* A memorandum of understanding was signed between Churchill, OMNITRAX and the Winnipeg Airport Authority to promote Churchill as the supply port to Nunavut.

* Kivalliq leaders are discussing the possibility of establishing a Kivalliq arts and crafts sales office in Winnipeg.

"We've continued talks after the mission. We didn't just leave there and have no communication happen between the two areas after our visit. We've been talking to each other and there's been some movement with the receptive tour operators we met there.

"Some of them we've already been dealing with, but I hope tourism outfitters in this region will be dealing with them more often as a result of the mission."

Gray said receptive tour operators serve as a kind of middleman between the Kivalliq tour operator and tourists across Canada and the United States. Receptive operators find a product suitable for the type of tourism experience they're interested in selling and book for it by advertising to attract enough individual tourists to come up with a tour group.

Keewatin operators have had some success with this type of operation in the past and now there are a few more outfitters in the region making contact with receptive tour operators in Manitoba.

Gray said in addition to increased contacts, Kivalliq operators were also given ideas about what receptive tour operators need to be able to do more business with them and to help them do more in promoting tourism in their region.

"The tourism sector people were very down to Earth," said Gray. "We, literally, threw away half the chairs, made a round table, rolled up our sleeves and went to work. They were interested in learning from each other to increase business for both regions.

"We were also able to introduce some new products to receptive tour operators dealing with Kivalliq operators now, which they didn't even know were available."

Gray said the Keewatin tourism industry could use a local inbound tour operator to provide the same service as the receptive tour operator in Manitoba, only a lot closer at hand. She

said discussions also focused on some of the training available for tourism industry people in Manitoba and the Keewatin and increasing familiarization (Fam) tours to the region.

"If operators in this region would be interested in specific types of training available in Manitoba, we could send some people down there and likewise if we have any types of training they're interested in.

"Big companies will sometimes send somebody on one of our Fam tours to check it out and see what's available. If they think the quality of the service is good enough and it's interesting enough for the people they want to attract to their business, they'll go with that outfitter.

"We might, in the future, have some more Fam tours specifically for operators in the Manitoba region to sample some of the tours offered by our Kivalliq operators."