Staycation is one of those relatively new words that doesn’t even need a definition. It sort of defines itself.

Still, for the sake of clarity, a staycation can mean a few things – staying at home for a vacation, staying within or close to your community, or staying within your country. (And for this editorial, country will be replaced by NWT for obvious reasons.)

In this year of 2020, staycations make great sense. Actually, it is about the only practical option for leisure travel for residents of the Northwest Territories in this time of Covid-19.

If we travel to the South, we would face 14 days of self-isolation upon our return home. And of course, leaving the NWT would put us in places where there is more opportunity to encounter the coronavirus.

We in the NWT are actually pretty lucky when it comes to opportunities for staycations, which we believe should mean staying within the territory. It is a massive area with unique natural attractions and interesting cultures.

This year, even we – meaning me, the reporter with The Hub – hope to take a very brief staycation. (We also hope that using ‘we’ is not confusing. After all, ‘he’, ‘she’ and ‘they’ are now interchangeable in modern English usage. It only makes sense that ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘we’ should also be interchangeable.)

Our staycation will be our small contribution to helping out the NWT economy, since the usual cast of tourists from elsewhere in Canada and the rest of the world won’t be showing up this year.

We plan to travel to Fort Simpson.

Even though we have lived in the NWT for about 22 years altogether, we have never been in Fort Simpson. So we will correct that this year. We’ve seen photos of Fort Simpson and it looks like a lovely place.

Admittedly, it is not Dublin – our pre-coronavirus destination for this year since surprisingly revealed that we are over 20 per cent Irish – but that’s all that can be done about that. Every community, whether large or small, has its own appeal.

We’re happy that we can travel anywhere this year.

Communities like Hay River and Yellowknife know that the tourism sector is in for a rough year and they have started to promote staycations.

Kami Kandola, the NWT’s chief public health officer, and she who seems to have the final say on everything in the territory these days, has also supported the idea of staycations.

However, Kandola advises that staycationers should be aware of the “sensitivities” of smaller communities and check ahead before visiting.

Message received. We will call ahead and won’t be dropping into Fort Simpson unannounced.

Aside from that caution about smaller communities, Kandola is encouraging people to travel to the regional centres of Yellowknife, Hay River, Fort Smith and Inuvik.

And we expect that visitors to Hay River will include people from other northern communities, like Fort Simpson.

The tourism sector is depending on us this year.

And likewise, we are all depending on the tourism sector of the NWT to offer us at least some vacation options and things to do.

Staycations will hopefully make 2020 a little more bearable for everybody.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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