We commend the Town of Hay River for launching its new effort to attract visitors this summer from other communities in the Northwest Territories.

As everyone knows, this tourism season has been turned upside down by the coronavirus/Covid-19, which has led to travel restrictions at the border which will keep out most tourists.

Even if they could visit, there doesn’t seem to be a big willingness anywhere in the world for travel too far from home in these uncertain times.

So the Town of Hay River is focusing on the best possible alternative – trying to encourage visitors to come to the community from the rest of the NWT, especially from places close enough to drive.

Those residents of Yellowknife, Fort Smith, Fort Simpson and elsewhere might not be comfortable taking a trip to the south, where the coronavirus is more prevalent than in the NWT, which has still recorded only five travel-related cases since the crisis began. Nor would they likely be willing to face 14 days in self-isolation upon returning to the NWT after a trip to the south.

That makes a trip to Hay River look safer and certainly a lot less complicated.

The Town of Hay River has therefore launched a promotion called Hay-Cation, a play on the word staycation.

To be honest, we were not crazy about the name when we first heard it, but it is growing on us. After repeating it a few times, it doesn’t sound too bad.

Plus, we probably had a similar reaction when we first heard the word ‘staycation’.

Hay-Cation is good advertising in that it gets right to the point. Would-be travellers seeing the promotion will have no doubt which community is inviting them to visit.

Hay River and the surrounding area have a lot to offer travellers, so we expect that Hay-Cation will have some success.

There’s camping, fishing, a golf course, beaches, waterfalls, the Hay River Heritage Centre and Fisherman’s Wharf, to name just a few of the attractions.

And as a central community in the southern NWT, Hay River is an obvious base from which visitors can explore the area and visit other communities like Fort Smith and Fort Resolution, and, of course, Wood Buffalo National Park.

The Town of Hay River says it will spend between $6,000-$7,000 on the Hay-Cation campaign, which will run to the end of August. That can only be a good investment for the town’s economy.

Of course, nothing comes easy, and the City of Yellowknife – seeing the same kind of tourism conditions as everyone else – has also launched its own staycation campaign.

So Hay River will have to compete for the NWT traveller.

However, we feel that our community and surrounding region would make a good option for tourists in the NWT.

The goal of Hay-Cation is to make sure they consider the community.

If they do really sit back and think about it, Hay River and area would make a good choice for a summer holiday.

It is always an appealing choice, but even more so in these unusual times.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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