The 2020 Hay River Tourism Development Plan, which covers the next three years, has been approved by town council.
NNSL file photo

Town council has approved a new 2020 Hay River Tourism Development Plan.

The plan, which was passed on April 20, will cover the next three years, basically the remainder of the current council’s term in office.

It was originally presented to council in early March to praise from councillors.

“It’s a pretty impressive document, I must say,” said Coun. Brian Willows at that time.

“This is a great report,” said Coun. Steve Anderson.

Mayor Kandis Jameson called it a solid document.

“It’s focused,” she said. “I like that it isn’t a 25-year plan, it’s a three-year plan.”

And Coun. Keith Dohey noted a lot of the goals are achievable.

“I don’t think there’s anything in this document that’s unrealistic, which is something else that I appreciate about it,” he said. “It’s not lofty, pie-in-the-sky ideas that we probably would never be able to achieve.”

Of course, since those comments in March, the Covid-19 pandemic has spread around the world and upended the tourism industry everywhere.

“I think the strategy and the planning is still valid,” said Judy Goucher, the senior administrative officer with the town, when asked on April 30 how Covid-19 would impact the plan. “I think that everyone in the Northwest Territories and pretty much across the world expects that tourism over these next several months will not be anywhere near the levels that they would have been had Covid not taken place. And in the Northwest Territories, I’ve seen announcements come out of the territorial government where they’re concerned that tourism levels are going to be dramatically impacted in a negative way because of Covid.”

Goucher said the new plan will likely have more application in the future than it will in the 2020 tourism season.

The plan was prepared by the Tourism and Economic Development Committee, which consists of representatives of council, town administration and the community.

“The tourism development plans are intended to take a strategic look at your environment, in this case the town of Hay River’s environment, and understand what opportunities might exist for developing tourism further,” said Glenn Smith, the town’s assistant senior administrative officer and administration’s representative on the committee, while speaking to council in March.

The new plan, which replaces the previous one created in 2012, includes numerous goals, initiatives and strategies, such as attracting more rubber-tire tourism, developing infrastructure to showcase the natural environment and culture, developing infrastructure such as Porritt Landing and the Fisherman’s Wharf Pavilion, diversifying tourism products and services, beautifying the community, increasing marketing, supporting Indigenous tourism, promoting sports tourism, supporting festivals and events, attracting tourists going to Yellowknife, and more.

“We also want to be a choice destination within the Northwest Territories,” said Smith. “We know we have natural assets that are attractive for people to come so they can spend multiple days within the community and help generate revenues.”

More than 4,000 people passed through the Hay River Visitor Information Centre in 2019.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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