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Town aims to tie tourism to Yukon

Tourists fill the room for the opening of the Great Northern Arts Festival. Though overall numbers seem to be down this summer, some organizations are reporting swelling interest from southerners, such as Parks Canada. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

Inuvik may be part of the Northwest Territories, but in many ways – most notably tourism – it’s more closely tied to Yukon.

That’s why the Town of Inuvik has identified strengthening that tie as a priority for the next year.

“I would say probably 70 per cent of our (tourism) traffic comes up driving, and they come through the Yukon,” said senior administrative officer Grant Hood at a tourism stakeholders meeting Monday, July 24.

The town is looking to build closer ties with the Western territory through means such as tour operators, packages and visibility.

“We certainly know the traffic is coming,” said Hood.


Big numbers for Parks Canada

Mady MacDonald, visitor experience product development manager with Parks Canada, reported high interest in the organization’s national park trips.

“For us, it’s been a wonderful year,” she said.

The Ivvavik National Park basecamp program sold out months before summer began, with 51 guests coming through for the high-priced trip. Another August tour is sold out and bookings have already gone into 2018.

“Inuvik in a way is becoming a bit of an adventure hub,” she said.

Parks Canada is looking to focus more on pingos outside of Tuktoyaktuk in the future as a Canadian landmark.

She echoed the sentiment that Yukon is where it’s at.

“Their tourism right now is exploding,” she said about Whitehorse.


 Food concerns addressed at Arctic Market

Hood revealed that the town’s delay in starting up the Saturday Arctic Market again was due to environmental health concerns about food preparation at the weekly event.

The town has now held a food safety course and has to provide handwashing stations for the vendors.

“That was one of the reasons it originally went to Tuesdays and into the greenhouse,” said Hood.

Heather Moses, economic development and tourism assistant for the town, said many vendors sold out 30 minutes into the season's first Saturday Arctic Market, which was held July 22.

The Jim Koe Park Saturday markets will continue from 2 to 4 p.m. until Sep. 2.

“If the weather is really cold, we are prepared to move it indoors (to the Midnight Sun Complex),” added M


New signs provide walking tour

A new sign initiative in the town offers tourists and locals something of a real-and-virtual walking tour.

The signs, the first of which is located at Jim Koe Park and are marked in order, are fitted with QR codes so walkers can scan them with their phone and find a video or more information about Inuvik and the area.


 Bear watchers warned away from dump

Inuvik bylaw officers have had to shoo some tourists away from the town’s landfill, where people have gone after hours to view bears.

The town will be putting up signs warning people to stay away from the landfill after hours.

“Environment and Natural Resources have expressed a big concern about the bear activity,” said Hood.

Reportedly, black bear visits to the landfill at night used to be common, but now people are seeing grizzlies during the day more often.


BREAKER: 50th anniversary for ski event planned

The 50th anniversary of the Top of the World Loppet, a cross-country skiing event, is scheduled to take place April 7 and 8 next year.

Holly Jones, from the Inuvik Ski Club, hopes to have the event run in conjunction with the Muskrat Jamboree.

She said estimates are that about 200 tourists will come to town for the Loppet weekend. She’s looking at negotiating package deals to bring visitors from Old Crow’s loppet the week before to Inuvik afterward.


 Nothing to eat in town

Among the dozen or so people who attended the tourism stakeholders meeting, one tourist disappointment was unanimous: shortage of places to eat in town.

Newton Grey, regional manager for Capital Suites, said the economics of opening a restaurant often just don’t make it feasible, especially in a small town.


The group plans to meet once a month for the foreseeable future.

The first meeting for the Inuvik Sunrise Festival planning committee will take place mid-August.

There has been some change in town staff, with economic and tourism manager Vicky Grégoire-Tremblay leaving, so the town is in a transition period in that department.

Chris Sharpe, recently hired as marketing and communications coordinator, has been working to increase the town’s presence on social media and fill out its events calendar.