National Tourism Week a celebration of NWT

National Tourism Week a celebration of NWT
New initiatives from Northwest Territories Tourism encourage locals to travel the NWT.Photo: Northwestern Territories Tourism.

Northwest Territories Tourism prides itself on bringing in thousands of international tourists to explore and enjoy the stunning scenery and unique cultures of the North. In fact, in the 2012-13 fiscal year, 76,000 visitors brought in over $100 million.

But when it comes to getting people in the North to plan their vacations where they already live, the agency admits there is some work to do.

“We have people from all over the world visiting this beautiful and spectacular place, and sometimes people don’t actually know the beauty is in their own backyard because we’re so busy living and working here,” said Cathie Bolstad, the new executive director of Northwest Territories Tourism.

As a result, NWT Tourism has launched several marketing campaigns to encourage local tourism and help Northern operators increase traffic. National Tourism Week, a celebration of Canada’s strong tourism industry from June 16 to 20, seemed like the natural time to launch the new platform.

NWT Convention Bureau created

On Friday evening, a contribution agreement between Northwest Territories Tourism and Tourism and Investment (ITI) was signed in Hay River to establish a Northwest Territories Convention Bureau.

“It’s not a place, its not a building, it’s actually a dedicated resource,” Bolstad said.

The plan is to establish frameworks for tourism organizations, to help businesses better pursue sales leads and prepare competitive bids for meetings, conferences, concerts and conventions hosted in the NWT.

The frameworks are to be established by the new year. In the meantime, Bolstad said the focus is on establishing protocols and processes for the larger communities throughout the five regions.

“We’re quite excited about it because meetings, conferences and conventions actually bring people to the North,” Bolstad said. “They benefit entire communities; it’s an ability to pursue the business market in a stronger way.”

Spectacular NWT contest

In order to battle a muddled social media marketing environment where it’s easy for vacationers to get bombarded with an overload of information, NWT Tourism designed the Explore Your Spectacular Northwest Territories contest to capture the attention of locals looking to travel.

The contest is only open to NWT residents, with trip packages to the five regions offered as prizes. Entrants fill out a ballot online and those who also send in photos from the NWT will automatically be entered a second time.

The contest is conducted in partnership with businesses, Industry, ITI and regional tourism offices and runs until June 22. To enter, go to http://exploreyourspectacularnwt.com/home.

Tourism training

On June 12, NWT Tourism brought together representatives from the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC), the federal crown agency for promoting Canada to the rest of the world as a tourism destination, and the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC), an advocacy organization for people in the tourism business.

They conducted stakeholder meetings in Yellowknife and Hay River with NWT tourism operators.

“We gave everybody an opportunity to see what both the CTC and TIAC are doing to promote Canada, because our product is part of Canada’s promotion internationally,” Bolstad said.

The meeting focused heavily on how to deal with the proliferation of media platforms and the spread of information using social media.

Hospitality scholarship

On Monday, NWT Tourism announced the launch of a scholarship program for local students studying hospitality in the territory.

“We want to encourage students to think about this as a career opportunity for the North,” Bolstad said.

The first scholarships awarded are worth $1,500. A golf tournament held in Hay River on June 13 provided an opportunity for members of NWT Tourism to meet while raising money for the scholarship fund.

“Tourism is a vital industry and has the potential to drive economic growth and opportunity in every region of the NWT,” ITI Minister David Ramsay said in a press release.

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