The mention of Thaidene Nëné National Park Reserve in a recent New York Times’ tourism article brings high-profile attention to the NWT, but travelers must know the path to the park has its bumps during the pandemic.

Thaidene Nëné, the country’s newest national park was included in the Times’ “52 Places for a Changed World” listing of ethical tourism destinations, published on Jan. 9.

The newspaper hailed Thaidene for its inclusion of Indigenous peoples in park management and the channeling of economic opportunities from guiding back to Indigenous communities.

Donna Lee Demarcke, CEO of NWT Tourism said it’s very encouraging the Times wrote about one of the territory’s travel locations.

“(It’s) something that will hopefully assist future travelers to the NWT to help put Thaidene Nëné on their must see list. Being mentioned by the New York Times at any time, is a travel destination’s dream,” she said.

However, accessing the park isn’t as straightforward as visiting say, Vancouver Island, which is also on the NYT’s list.

Travel to the NWT is still subject to some Covid-19 restrictions. All visitors, both Canadian and international and regardless of vaccination status must submit self-isolation plans (SIP) before their arrival.

Although leisure travel to the territory is still restricted, according to CPHO guidelines, accessing the park is possible by visiting some fishing lodges regarded as remote operators under the GNWT’s Remote Tourism Operations Plan, announced in April of 2021.

The plan covers about 60 operators in the NWT and stipulates that businesses can host clients if there is minimal or no contact between travellers and NWT residents who are not employees of the operations.

Frontier Lodge, billed as “the gateway to Thaidene” isn’t considered a remote operator due to its proximity to Łutsel K’e, as manager Corey Myers told NNSL Media last July.

It offers several experiences to explore the park, although its fishing packages out of the lodge are already “99 per cent booked up” for the 2022 season, according to its website.

Myers said he’s hopeful the 2022 summer will be successful and is excited by the added media attention on Thaidene.

“I think it’s very encouraging that we have a renowned publication like the New York Times showcasing what visitors can experience in Thaidene Nëné and the NWT in general,” he said.

While NWT Tourism has encouraged visitors to plan trips to the territory when restrictions ease, Demarcke said, the organization is also looking forward to a change in the situation with the pandemic.

“We believe (that) will be followed by an announcement from our CPHO to ease restrictions for leisure travel, (and) will once again allow visitors to travel more freely into the NWT,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI) said they couldn’t provide a comment by deadline.

Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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