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Taking a trip into the world of the tourist

Lynn Lau
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Aug 19/02) - At airports, road-stops and tourist attractions across the territory, canvassers are delving into the secret lives of NWT tourists.

The territorial government and NWT Tourism want to know everything about tourists -- where they're coming from, how much they're spending, why they came, and whether they found what they were looking for.

Richard Zieba, an economist for the Department of Economic Dev-elopment in Yellowknife, says there are two purposes of the survey -- to estimate the total number of summer visitors to the NWT, and to get an idea of who they are.

"We'll be able to develop profiles of different sectors," Zieba says.

The information will be used to tailor marketing campaigns toward the appropriate audience, and to develop new tourism products.

The NWT exit survey, which will cost about $200,000 this year, was first administered in 1989. It takes place once every four years.

This year, Zieba says his department will be looking at the volume of travellers, post-Sept. 11, and for the first time, an effort is being made to capture information from wilderness travellers.

"Adventure outfitters are co-operating to distribute self-administered surveys to their clients this year," Zieba says.

The conventional tourists are being stopped in Inuvik, Hay River, Fort Smith, Fort Simpson, Yellowknife, the Mackenzie River ferry at Fort Providence, the 60th parallel, and Checkpoint in the Deh Cho.

Canvasser Kathleen Hicks is one of two summer students hired in Inuvik to quiz tourists at the airport and around town. Although the survey usually only takes about 10 minutes, Hicks says sometimes busy travellers balk when they see she has four pages to fill out.

"We've been getting fairly positive response," Hicks says.

The results from the survey probably won't be available until November.