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IndustryTourism8TuesdayAugust122014NWTtourismoperatorsmakebestofbadreseasonMarketingorganizationchallengedwithcreatingplanfor2015ByMEAGANWOHLBERGTheNorthwestTerritoriestoptourismmarketingagencyisfacedwiththechallengeofensuringnextyearsvisitorsarentdeterredbywhathasbeenoneoftheworstwildreseasonsinrecenthistorythissummer.Tourismoperatorsthrough-outtheNWThavebeenforcedtobandtogetherandrejigsched-uledstaysoverthepastseveralweeksinordertosalvagetour-istsvisitswhichhavebeencomplicatedbyrescomingdangerouslyclosetowilder-nesslodgesblockingoutmainhighwaysandcancellingights.ItsbeenachallengesaidCathieBolstadexecutivedirec-torofNWTTourism-notonlyfortourismoperatorsbutforthemarketingagencyaswell.NWTTourismhasbeenforcedtoreschedulevisitsthroughoutthesummerbyinternationalmediahopingtogivethemasimilarvisittotheonetheysignedupforandleavethemwithalastingpositiveimpres-siontheycantakebacktotheirrespectivecountries.WecannotcontroltheweatherandweworkdespiteitBolstadsaidwithalaugh.Liketourismoperatorswearerejugglingreschedulingplanningextrastays...Wecantbeallthingstoallpeoplebutweresuretrying.WhiletheobstaclescreatedbythisyearsreshavebeenstressfulBolstadsaidtheresulthasbeenavisiblecamaraderieamongtourismoperatorsno-ticedbyvisitorswhohavere-markedonthespiritofNorth-ernersinmakingthebestofabadsituation.InsomecasesourownNWTTourismstaffhavepickedupgueststhathavehadtocuttheirholidaysshortatlodgesandweveassistedlodgeoperatorstotaketheirgueststoanotherareaofhos-pitalityBolstadsaid.Whatwereobservingisanincred-iblepulltogetherattitudeofcompetitorswhorecognizethathowpeopleleavetheterri-toryandtheirimpressionofuswillgaugewhethertheycomebackornot.WhethervisitorsreturntotheterritoryisaquestionbeingseriouslyconsideredrightnowbyNWTTourismasitpreparesits2015marketingstrategyfortheSpectacularNorthwestTerritoriesandBolstadsaidmanyunknownscomplicatetheplanning.Wedontknowwhattheimpactofmediacoverageandtheinformationthatsbeenputoutthereabouttheresitua-tionwillhaveonvisitorsandhowmanyofthemhaveseenitandpaidattentiontoitshesaid.Soweregoingintoourmarketingplanknowingwhoourmarketsareknowingwhattheyreinterestedinbutwith-outknowingwhatexposuretheyvehadtooursituationin2014thissummer.AndsoweneedtogetourheadsaroundwhatwillourmarketingplandotoaddressensuringthatthosewhohavebeenexposedtoandmayhaveconcernsabouttheNorthwestTerritoriesresitu-ationhowwillwegetaroundthatwithoutactuallydrawingitinandmakingitpartofthestorywewanttotell.Thatsourchallenge.ThoughmostofthecallstoNWTTourismarefrompeopleconcernedabouttheresitua-tionanditspotentialimpactontheirtripsBolstadsaidthereisalsoasmallminorityinter-estedinvisitingtoexperiencetheresthemselveswhichissomethingtoponder.Alotofthetouriststhatwegetthattravelinparticularbyroadandwhowanttogointoparksorintothewildernessarepeoplewhoarepsychographi-callybydenitionofwhotheyareadventurousshesaid.Soforthem...seeingthisispartoftheiradventure.TourismnumbersdowninYellowknifeNumbersoftouristsarede-nitelydownintheNWTcapitalthissummerduetoroadclo-suresrelatedtounpredictableandmassivewildrecomplexesalongtheonlyhighwayintoYellowknifebutthatdoesntmeanvisitorserviceshaventtriedtomakethebestoftheerysituation.TracyTherriengeneralman-ageroftheNorthernFrontierVisitorsCentreinYellowknifesaidtheusualstreamofroad-trippingvisitorsoptedoutofatrekthroughtheNWTthisyearduetouncertaintyaroundroadandreconditions.Ournumbersaredenitelydowntheresnoquestionshesaid.Forcertainweknowthatwerelosingtravelers.AlotofpeopletravelingtoAlaskawilldetourandseeus-theyreabso-lutelynotdoingthatatleastnotinthelasttwoorthreeweeks.IvehadpeopleonFacebooksayingwecancelledourtriptoYellowknifeandwhatnot.WhilethathasdroppednumbersTherriensaidroadclosureshavealsohadthecon-verseeffectofbolsteringactiv-ityatthecentrewithvisitorsmakingrepeatappearancestousewigetupdatesandseekoutmoretouristopportuni-tiestolltheirextratimeinYellowknife.Itsworkingbothwaysshesaid.Werenotgettingnewtrafcinbutpeoplearegettingstrandedsotheyarecomingbacktothecentresometimesonceortwiceaday.Aswellshesaidsalesatthecentresgiftshopsinclud-ingtheoneattheairporthavegoneupthisyeardespitethefewervisitors.ItskindoffunnybutIwouldsaythestrandedanddelayedpeoplearespendingmoremoneyTherriensaid.AlthoughsomevisitorshavebeenunhappywithanunplannedextensiontotheirvisitTherriensaidmanyoth-erswhobravedtheroadandfoundthemselvesstuckinYel-lowknifehaveexpressedtheirhappinessatbeingabletospendafewextradaystoexplorethecommunity.IfitsatravelerthathastheirwholesummertotraveltheyarenotconcernedTher-riensaid.TheyreenjoyingYellowknife.AmongthoseisagroupofAlbertateenswhowereleftwithoutaccommodationafterbeingstrandedinthecityduetoyetanotherclosureofHigh-way3.Withnoavailablecamp-sitesintownTherrienopenedupthevisitorscentretothemasrefuge.Wereencouragingpeopletospendasmuchtimeastheyneedatthecentrecomeanduseourwicomeandhangout.WehaveaTVhereifpeoplewanttowatchthenewsshesaid.Strandedtouristsarenttheonlycrowdbeinggivenahelp-inghandinYellowknife.Visi-torexperiencestaffhavebeenreachingouttocommercialtruckersparkedaroundthecitywhohavebeenforcedtowaitdaysforthehighwaytoopen.Venturingaboutthecitystaffarehandingoutguidebooksandlettingtheuninten-tionalvisitorsknowabouttheloadsoffreespotstovisitinYellowknifesuchasthemu-seumdiamondcentrelegis-latureandOldTown.Therriensaidtheresponsehasbeenverypositive.Everybodyhastobeveryunderstandingthatthisisoutofanybodyscontrolsoitmightbeinconvenientbutgettingupsetaboutitisreallyawasteofenergyshesaid.AreragesnearPlummersLakeLodgeatouristdestinationnearYellowknifeinmidJuly.PhotoAdrianLizotteENRGNWTEnvironmentWildreHotdrywindyweatherforecasttofuelwildresByDONJAQUEEarlyAugustisusuallytheendofthewildreseasonintheNWTwhenrecrewsarelaidoffandhelicopterandaircraftcontractster-minatebutnotthissummerwheretherehavebeen364restodateonly63ofthosedeclaredoutandweatherforecastsindicatingmoreofthesame.RickOlsenmanagerofreoperationswithEnviron-mentandNaturalResourcesENRtoldTheJournalthatanestimated2.856millionhectareshaveburnedtodateandanumberofactiveresareburningclosetoNWTcommunities.ThemassiverejustwestofYellowknifeisbeingac-tionedonthesouthsidelo-catedonly22kmfromthecapital.Anotherhugecom-plexfurthernorthofitisalsobeingactionedandis22kmeastofBehchokoburninghot.Othercommunitieswithwildrestoocloseforcom-fortincludeWhatiwherestrategicburnoutsthatshouldprotectthecommunityarebeingmoppedup.Thereareseveralres30kmtothesouthofFortResolutionthathaverecrewsbusyandabigrethatemergedoutofthenorthsideofWoodBuf-faloNationalParkisbeingworkedonsothatitdoesnotbecomeathreattoHayRiver.Workisstillbeingdoneonthewestsideofthemas-siveBirchCreekrecom-plexalongHwy3sothatitdoesnotthreatenFortProvi-dence.Allvecommunitieshavethevulnerabilityofoldgrowthforestbetweenthemandtheres.TherearestillhotspotsintheresalongHwy3whichwillprobablymeanpoorvis-ibilityfortrafcandthespo-radicclosingofroadaccesstoandfromYellowknifeandBehchoko.Aninversionthatiskeepingsmokefromthosereslowtothegroundisalsohamperingvisibilityforre-ghtingaircraftthere.FerociousreweatherTherewasbadnewsintheforecastattheNWTFireCentreweatherbrief-ingMondaymorningwherepredictorBevArchibaldfromTrueNorthweatherconsult-ingsaidthatferociousreweatherislikelyonTues-dayandWednesday.Shesaidthingswillbeheatingupanddryingoutandalowleveljetispossiblewherehighwindsdropdownfromtheupperatmosphere.Sheispredictingsustainedwindsofatleast20kmperhourgustingto35kmintheNorthSlavestormswithdrylightningandverylittlemoisturestrongsoutherlywindsaroundYellowknifeandweatherpatternsthatcouldconvergeintheSouthSlavetoproducethebestscenariofortornadoes.DehchoresclosetooutOnebitofgoodnewsisthattheresintheDehchoregionhaveslowedandOlsensaysnomoreactionisrequiredonthem.ThatincludesthethreeresthatwerenearthecommunityofJeanMarieRiverwhicharealldeemedclosetooutaswellasthemassiveKakisarethatisnownallyundercontrol.TheBirchCreekfirecomplexalongHwy3isstillcausingproblemsfortravelersbetweenYellowknifeandFortProvidence.PhotoKellyPennycookENRGNWT