Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad  Print this page

Tourism group plans European offensive

Sydney Selvon
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 21/05) - A trip to Europe next year including representatives of NWT Tourism, outfitters and lodge owners aims to bring a lot more back than souvenirs.

"We will be selling adventure tourism," said NWT Tourism executive director David Grindlay.

The tour is planned for September 2006 and expected to make stops in Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich, in Germany as well as Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Early in the new year invitations will go out to tourism operators around the territories, but Grindlay said they shouldn't expect this to be an all expenses paid junket.

"The costs have to be borne by the private operators," he said adding a similar trip five years ago cost participants $3,000 each with his group contributing $5,000.

"This upcoming tour will cost obviously more than $3,000 per operator." The reaction from the private sector has thus far been mixed.

Arctic Safaris owner/operator Barry Taylor said he will consider taking part in the trade mission.

"We depend largely on the American market. The European market represents about one per cent of our customers," he said. "The European market is definitely one that needs to be developed."

At the Explorer Hotel, general manager Andre Lanz said he couldn't justify the expense of such a focused marketing blitz. "We participate in such events as Meet the North (in Edmonton) and Rendez-vous Canada (tourism conference in Toronto) where we meet wholesalers from all over the world," he said.

The number of visitors to Yellowknife and the North Slave grew by about 22 per cent between May 2004 and April of this year, said Richard Zieba, an economist with the GNWT.

This helped to offset a 33 per cent decline in the Beaufort-Delta region resulting in an overall NWT-wide drop of just three per cent.

The total number of leisure tourists was about 39,400, he said, adding there are only estimates of the number of business travellers.

"We had a good increase of 2,000 with the National First Nations Assembly," he said.

The U.S. remains the most important market for Northern operators.

With that group still off by 25-30 per cent since the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington - and facing new competition in the Japanese Aurora segment from the Yukon, Whistler, B.C., and Northern Alberta - Grindlay is looking for more cash in his fight to lure people here.

He is seeking a $500,000 bump to his group's annual budget of $1.82 million and said early discussions with the federal and territorial governments have been encouraging.

"The feds have not been contributing to our tourism for several years," he said.

"We need this money for promotional activities."